By Omar Bah
The Gambia Ports Authority on Friday announced it has launched an investigation into allegations of corruption involving some of its “Rating Unit staff”.
Last month, sources at the GPA informed The Standard that some of the staff at the institution’s Rating Unit under the Traffic, Operations, and Logistics Department were allegedly duplicating receipts and making away with over D4 million per week. This medium was also informed that after the news of the corruption was leaked, the management allegedly redeployed the staff involved to other departments. The Standard contacted the GPA spokesperson Yankuba Manneh who after days of consultation reached out to say “there was no such thing”.
“I have found the allegation not to be true as narrated to you. Issuing fake receipts seems very impossible given the process involved because the Authority has transferred payment of its handling charges to GTBank a couple of years ago. Clients/customers only tender paid receipts to rating officers under the Traffic Department for processing. physical cash is not paid to our staff, therefore it makes it difficult for fake receipts to thrive in the process of clearing a cargo,” Manneh said.
On the issue of the reshuffling, Manneh explained that the practice “is a norm and has been in place for years now. In fact, staff under the said department have been rotating from one unit to the next every six months. I dug into the records to find this and it came out to be in place during when the current MD was the head of Traffic, many years back. The rationale of rotating staff is to make them know the job in Traffic Dept in its entirety; to make them all-rounders with in-depth knowledge of all units. I think the complainant, if he/she is a staff, is perhaps just aggrieved for being moved to another unit that he/she does not want. But really this is a normal practice in Traffic Dept.”
Meanwhile, the GPA issued a press statement after allegations were leaked online. The statement reads:
“The GPA Management expresses concern over the trending allegation making rounds on social media that allegedly involved certain staff at the Rating Unit, who are said to have duplicated payment receipts resulting in a loss of revenue. We wish to inform members of the public that the whistleblower information raised an issue about signals of the likelihood of leakages. Subsequently, the matter was raised and discussed at a Management meeting held on Monday 28th February 2022. Immediately, precisely on Tuesday 1st March 2022, a memo was issued constituting a three-member committee, excluding the affected department, to investigate the drop in shore handling revenue covering from 2020 and 2021 and report back on Wednesday 16th March 2022.
Meanwhile, it is instructive for the public to know that the GPA Management has since early 2021 stopped all cash collection at the Ports and all importers have been paying at the Bank (GT Bank). Further to that, arrangements are underway to have the Bank produce the Delivery Order (DO), which is the source document. This is being discussed with the shipping agencies who normally authorise releases on the DO before payments are made. The Port digitisation project also envisages online payments to eliminate all associated risks.”