Gambia: Commission inspects state aircraft

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By Baba Sillah

The Janneh Commission members yesterday visited the Banjul International Airport to inspect the state aircraft, the Green Industry, Westwood Company and Mineral Company of The Gambia as they press on the pedal in their probe of the financial dealings of the former president and his close associates.

Led by Chairman Sourahata Janneh, the commissioners, hosted by Malick Njock Jagne, an aviation safety inspector at the Gambia Civil Aviation Authority, inspected three state aircraft.
The first to be inspected was the C5 RTG which was used by the former president but is currently grounded needing maintenance to make it airworthy.

Responding to questions from commissioners, Mr Jagne disclosed that the lifespan of an aircraft depends on its maintenance programme, adding that aircraft can serve for 40 years.
However, he said they have terminated the services of the Russian crew that used to handle the aircraft but they maintained an engineer to take care of the aircraft.

He said the aircraft has a capacity for 64 passengers but it ceased being operational in March 2017 and it needed to be taken to Russia or Uzbekistan for maintenance.
The interior of the aircraft was unkempt and in response to a query, Mr Jagne said they needed someone who has licence to clean the inside of an aircraft.

On the Boeing 727, the aviation inspector informed the commissioners that the it was built in 1971 and acquired by the state in October 2012 and was the last 727 built by Boeing who have even recommended that it is no longer airworthy. He said the aircraft last flew during the political impasse when it transported the former first lady from the United States of America.

The other aircraft inspected by members of the commission was the Illusion 62 which was manufactured in 1966 and was used by a Saudi prince before it was purchased together with the Boeing 727 by the state but was never used.

He added that the air tractor beside the aircraft was purchased from the United States and was manufactured by Air Tractors Incorporation and they are normally used for firefighting but at the moment they are not operational.

The delegation proceeded to the Mineral Company of The Gambia (MCG) were they were received by Augustus Prom the receiver of all assets owned by the former president. Giving a background of the company, Prom Junior explained that the company had an expert manager from France and its functions was to test gold dust in the country and all that all the raw materials were supposed to be outsourced within the sub-region for processing.

According to him, the investors were not confident that there was indeed gold deposits in the country as they were not satisfied with initial tests carried out in Basse. He added that the company was set up in 2014 and the building was put up by GIEPA with the equipment costing $500,000.