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City of Banjul
Wednesday, October 21, 2020

Gamcel GM explains MGI saga

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By Baba Sillah

The general manager of Gamcel, Elizabeth Mendy-Johnson has appeared before the Janneh Commission yesterday to explain the contract of MGI for the management of international gateway.
She said the reason for partnering with the international telecom company MGI was because of their support in the area of roaming, noting their partnership was for development project.

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She recalled that from the agreement, she knew that an amount should be paid but from her understanding, MGI would not ask for payment, adding that MGI deducted the sum of $1, 093,600 for roaming.
Mrs Johnson however said she could not remember the list of all that attended the meeting in Switzerland and the cost involved, further stating that Gamcel has not gained any significant development.
However, she adduced that Gamtel owned Gamcel and they appoint managers as well, further stating that they are trying to compete, and competition depends on what you could offer.
She told the commission that she could not remember the lowest revenue collected but Gamtel operated at a loss.

Mrs Johnson further stated that when the contract with MGI was stopped, they could not bill their customers and they had to go back to their billing system.
She narrated that they needed the most sophisticated billing system to make it more vibrant and up to standard, stating further that they needed to pay MGI $1.7 million after the termination of their contract.
However, she said no action was taken to negotiate for the payment of this amount but they were trying to see if they could budget for another billing system.

Ousman Jobarteh, the deputy managing director of Gambia Ports Authority also faced the commission to shed light on the exportation of timber by Westwood Company.
He told the commission that he knew the said company which was involved in the exportation of timber bound for China.

Mr Jobarteh further stated that he had a record of how many containers the company exported to China, revealing that the company exported in, 15,106 containers in 2014 while in 2012, they exported 19,747 containers.

Asked how the company was introduced to GPA, he said the agency they were dealing with gave them a letter as the sole exporter of timber. Mr Jobarteh went on to say that according to the letter the company were authorised to export timber, adding that Westwood brought a scanner which is stationed at GPA to scan containers and is currently operating and is under their custody.

Next to face the commission was the former deputy director of agricultural engineering service, Ousainou Jobe and the current officer in charge of the unit at the Ministry of Agriculture, Mustapha Minteh.
They were summoned with regard to John Deere tractors and they explained how they were assembled and distributed under the executive directives.

Mr Jobe said they assembled 78 tractors and there was a team from South Africa, noting that the tractors were left at MSA garage and the ministry asked him to be responsible for the tractors.
He informed the commission that the tractors were left at the garage for one year after they received letters from the ministry for the tractors to be stationed at the garage.
Mr Jobe revealed that 334 farming implements were handed over by the office of the former president, noting that after the handing over; instructions came to supply the tractors.

He stated that up to 2015, 55 tractors were distributed, and 13 were left at MSA garage, further disclosing that it was one Siaka who was responsible for MSA and the tractors were handed over to him.
Mr Jobe further told the commission that Generals Tamba and Badjie gave the instructions to distribute the 55 tractors and was quick to say that most of the tractors were received by Kanilai Family Farms and they were told that the tractors should be given out on hire basis.
The director of IT Gamtel/ Gamcel, Seedy Ceesay, also appeared before the commission in connection to MGI project.

He said he is based at Gamcel office but both companies contributed to their budget, adding that from August 2017 to date he has been working with Gamcel.
According to him, as the managing director of co-network at the time he was involved in the switching of networks, noting that he has never set his eyes on MGI switches despite the fact that they were managing the gateway and did not know where their switch was located.

He said he did not have any connection to the switches of MGI but was involved in the billing system and they were to integrate their switches to MGI and the authority came from the then MD.
However, he said he was involved in one MGI project, ie Gamcel billing system, further indicating that they had a meeting in Switzerland to discuss the bypass fraud, and the loss was not discussed at the meeting.
Mr Ceesay told the commission at the meeting they discussed that they needed to have a server, stating that MGI was responsible for detecting the fraud, since they were managing the international gateway.

At that juncture, Counsel Bensouda asked him why Gamtel had difficulties in the operation of the system after taking over from MGI. In response, he said he did not know why the system was not working and that he did not know what MGI did on the system.
Mr Ceesay informed the commission that they called experts but the system was not working, disclosing that he did not know anything about the sum of over $1million deducted by MGI.

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