By Tabora Bojang
The former head of Gambia Public Procurement Authority, Abdoulie Tambedou, has denied allegations before the Public Petitions Committee of the National Assembly investigating corruption allegations at The Gambia Tourism Board. Tambedou requested his staff to “note and file” an award notification from the board indicating it awarded a contract to Lerr Group for D22 million contradicting the D19.4 million approved by the authority.
Tambedou, who until last year was the head of GPPA before going to head SSHFC, was the third witness under oath to testify before the lawmakers. Probing corruption allegations and breach of procurement rules in the awards of contracts for the building of five eco lodges by the tourism board.
He confirmed that the GPPA gave approval for the contract at D19.4 million and he was not aware of anything more than that figure until his redeployment to the SSHFC.
His testimony contradicts the earlier testimony of the GPPA director of policy and procurement Ebrima Sanyang who told the committee that the authorities only became aware of a change in the contract when it received an award notification from GTB, indicating a contracted award of D22,338, 105,000 to Lerr Group.
“When our director [Tambedou] received this notification he told us to note and file because we can’t do much except note it in our compliance review exercises as queries,” Sanyang earlier told the hearing.
But, Mr Tambedou in his response stated that he was not aware of any letter being sent to the GPPA from the tourism board that the contract was increased to D22 million as opposed to D19 million.
“If there was to be any increase it has to be approved by the GPPA and I am not aware of any changes in the initial price. If such an increase comes to the attention of the GPPA a letter should be written to GTB to provide explanations as to why the GPPA provisions were flouted,” Tambedou explained.
He added that the only justification that could lead to an increase from the original price would be if the GT Board plans to increase the eco lodges to six, “but even then, it has to be endorsed by the GPPA, but they [GTB] cannot award it from D19.4 to D22 million. You only note and file if it is 100 percent compliant,” he clarified.
When asked if it could not be an oversight on his side that he instructed his subordinates to “note and file” the contract notification award from GTB, Tambedou responded: “That would be more than a serious oversight. However even if the MD did such a thing it is the responsibility of a senior manager to confront the DG with such a concern because with note and file GTB still does not have approval to go ahead with the contract.”
Meanwhile GPPA compliant officer Momodou K Jallow who was implicated by the petitioners (GT Board staff) on allegations that he frequented the offices of the board to help former Director General Abdoulie Hydara and Finance Director Ousainou Senghore in carrying out “corrupt practices” (during the awarding of the contract has denied “ever meeting” the duo?)
The committee sent out Mr Jallow during the testimony of his immediate boss, Ebrima Sanyang, last week when the committee told him that he was adversely mentioned.
He said he ceased taking part in the process when the GPPA approved the original contract fee of D19,4 million.
“I never met the director general [Hydara] or the finance director [Senghore]. I only visited the GTB once in my career and that was between March 18 and March 22 2020 on an official mission. I am a young professional and this is very painful seeing my name surface all over the media just because of unfounded allegations. I think the GTB staff owe me an apology for all their unfounded allegations because I am not taking this matter lightly,” Jallow queried.