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City of Banjul
Friday, August 7, 2020

KMC CEO HITS BACK AT BAKS JAMMEH

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Pa Kalifa Sanyang, the CEO of KMC, has refuted claims made in a report submitted to the authorities by the council’s then interim committee headed by Bakary Jammeh.

In the report which was leaked to online news-sites, the Jammeh Committee accused CEO Sanyang and his senior team of ineptitude and malfeasance and that both the staff and the institution were not fit for purpose.

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This apparently warranted the Ministry of Regional Government to send Mr Sanyang and his director of finance on their statutory annual leave. However, the month-long leave ended but the duo has not been recalled to work.

Meanwhile, The Standard is privy to a long-read response letter sent to the authorities by Mr Sanyang. In it, he called the Bakary Jammeh committee report “grossly erroneous… replete with lies and distortions” and not a true reflection of the state of affairs at the KMC”. He accused the committee of engaging in a witch-hunt in broad daylight.

Last evening, I was privy to the report of the outgone Interim Management Committee of the KMC which I presume the Interim Chairman, Bakary Jammeh, made available to the online Freedom Newspaper.
Having read the report on the website, I write to draw your kind attention to the grossly misleading information contained therein. The report presents a picture of the KMC that does not really obtain as far as verifiable facts are concerned.
Please find attached my prompt reaction to the report as it stands.

Pa Kalifa Sanyang
Chief Executive Officer, KMC 

Cc:
The Secretary General, Office of the President
The Mayor, KMC

KANIFING MUNICIPAL COUNCIL – INTERIM MANAGEMENT COMMITTEE
FINAL REPORT- MAY 2018
REACTION OF THE CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER
In view of a report generated by the Interim Management Committee of the Kanifing Municipal Council, I feel obliged to react to certain key elements of the report for the purpose of setting the records straight.
The said report is grossly erroneous and clearly designed to bring my professional character into disrepute for the very wrong reasons.
The following clarifications are therefore of absolute essence in relation to the report:

2.1 Environment & sanitation
In relation to “a fleet of old and obsolete vehicles and heavy machinery” that was acquired by the Council in 2014, I was not the Chief Executive Officer at the time. However records indicate that this was sanctioned through due process. There was an approval for single sourcing on this from the GPPA.
It is not true that the Directors of Finance and I contracted one Modou Sanyang to clear Six Communal Dumps at D700, 000.00 per month. The fact is during the last rainy season, our only shovel loader which was used to clear communal dumps got a major break down. The dumps went out of control, overspilling and partially blocking public accesses. The Council was bombarded with written concerns from the National Environment Agency (NEA), Ministry of Health and the State Intelligence Services (SIS) about the state of the dumps at the time.

This brought the need for us to arrange for alternative means of maintaining the dumps. Mr Sanyang who had a proven track record of undertaking such tasks on behalf of the Council, was contacted to step in until such a time the shovel becomes functional.

Several months into the service, he came up with a monthly charge of D700, 000. 00 which I rejected. I summoned Mr. Sanyang to a meeting and pointed out clearly to him that there was no way I could commit the Council to a contract amounting to such an amount without subjecting it to tender through the Contract Committee. I tasked him to consider his charge to a level below D500, 000. 00 which would allow me authority to pay for his services. His lawyer later wrote to us but up to this very moment, not a single butut has been paid to him in this respect.

I presume if the Council is now paying D400, 000. 00 for this service, it is because one of the most intractable dumps situated at Kotu Silo is no longer part of the clearing. It was terminated due to the construction of the Kotu Silo Bridge.
Dump clearing is quite an expensive service. The Interim Committee should have been honest enough to report that it had paid more than D300, 000. 00 for clearing of dumps in just a four-day period.

 

Markets
That market dues were increased by 57% is not a reflection of the true picture. As a matter of fact, four members of the Interim Committee got themselves involved in daily collections at the market. In addition, the Committee hired an extra 8 personnel and used them in collections without the knowledge of the Directors of Finance or myself as head of the establishment. The report should have been more objective and detailed to indicate that 12 more personnel were actively involved in market collections in addition to the existing team tasked with market collections. Naturally, there will be an improvement.

 

Abandoned public toilets
The report claimed that currently, all the abandoned public toilets in markets have been re-opened and are properly maintained. This is completely misleading. When I took over as CEO in 2015, we paid D18 million, funds which were 100% raised by Council to rehabilitate market toilets. This was done by Gamworks under a delegated management contract and delivered on time. As a means of maintaining, the toilets we introduced user fees which to date are collected and managed by the respective market committees. These funds are used to buy cleaning material and detergents for these toilets. Attendants are also posted to all market toilets. It is untrue therefore, to suggest that market toilets were in any state of abandonment. Gamworks Agency could bear testimony to this. The Council even has a balance of D900,000.00 with Gamworks as leftover money from this project.

 

3.20 Expenditure control measures 
It is utterly untrue that the Directors of Finance and I violated the Committee’s resolution on the D100, 000. 00 expenditure threshold sanctioned by the Committee. This was introduced while I was out of town. Once I received the communication, I wrote requesting that the decision be reconsidered in a more constructive manner. It was turned down. I made it clear that the outright reduction of the CEOs threshold from D500,000.00 to D100,000.00 for a big institution like the KMC was not ideal and that the Interim Chairman could not approve expenditures as conveyed in the resolution. That was not within his mandate.

However, I made sure that the Chairman was aware of and indeed sign to endorse any payment that exceeded D100, 000. 00. There is documentary proof that the Chairman had signed such documents. Again here, the Interim Committee report clearly manifested ill faith and was bereft of honesty by failing to state that on a weekly basis, the Chairman was provided with information relating to the Council’s total income, total expenditure and all bank balances. Ordinarily, I should have done this on a quarterly basis and presented to Council in accordance with existing laws. But I did it weekly.

5.3 KMC community radio station
The Council never awarded any contract to Ousman ‘Rambo’ Jatta. We planned to set up a community radio station and it was understood that Rambo had brand new equipment from Sweden he was disposing off. The procurement was sourced through a registered vendor. I do not think it should orchestrate such drama.
More importantly, the establishment of the radio station was delayed because the Ministry of Information was not in the position to grant the necessary licence. The Council was told the frequency allocation for the area was exhausted at the time. After repeated engagements, the Ministry said it would consider the request further down the line.

Actually, this was one of the issues that Interim Chairman told me that President Adama Barrow was personally concerned with and wanted an explanation. I provided this in a memo dated (…) But he intentionally refused to share with the Committee and kept to himself.

 

Bakoteh Woodland Sub-Lease 
The sub-leasing of the Bakoteh Woodland is another matter the Interim Chairman said the president was personally concerned with and had demanded explanations.
I provided all the necessary information on this in a memo dated (…) Again for reasons now coming into play, he failed to share this with the Committee and kept it to himself.

I did state clearly in that memo (as attached) that the woodland was subleased to Swami India through Global Properties with the written consent of the Minister and that all subsequent documents were prepared by our solicitors Amie Bensouda & Co and duly executed.
Yes, there was public outcry about the issue but upon review of the documentation, the police concluded that the arrangement was done in the right manner and urged those that were intruding onto the property to desist.

 

5.7 Diversion of market dues
During the entire period of my tenure as CEO, collections from all revenue streams of Council were banked daily. If any Councilor had diverted any market dues for any programme in Kanilai, I wasn’t aware and it was quite certainly not during my tenure. Under my stewardship, no councilor ever had such access to council

funds.

5.8 Staff loans
It is a blatant lie that political considerations came into play in the issuance of staff loans to staff of the KMC. I challenged anyone to point out one staff member who was issued loan based on his political affiliation. I have never allowed being politicised as Chief Executive Officer and I was never a card-holding member of the APRC as the report insinuated. Nobody could have enhanced the APRC grip onto power than the Interim Chairman, Bakary Jammeh, who was an APRC Youth Chairman in Banjul.

Reference was also drawn to a supplementary car loan disbursed to me. I am entitled to such a loan in my capacity and indeed the Interim Chairman was aware and had signed to authorise the payment (see attached document). The loan was duly authorised and adequately documented.
All loan approvals authorised by me during my tenure will equally show uniform interest rates on all loans according to the respective categories of the recipient.

It is absolutely ridiculous as stated in the report that I as CEO determined the interest rates of the loans. The KMC has been in existence and issuing staff loans before I was born. If the National Audit Office would advise that loans should be stopped, I have a duty to respond appropriately to that. It will only need some explanation and making reference to certain procedures for the National Audit Office to comprehend our position on that.

 

5.9 Disposal of council properties
The table indicating a list of properties leased to various entities is a direct extract from a query raised by the National Audit Office and were transactions in some cases, dating 10 years back. None of those leases were granted during my tenure. Be that as it may, why would an incomplete audit finding that was yet to be responded to find its way into the public domain if no sinister motives are lurking?

 

8.0 KMC Alkalolu
The report that alkalolu of the KMC remained unpaid for three years is incorrect. My administration had effected payment to alkalolu well into 2017. These were inherited arrears and were paid periodically. Vouchers are there to show that the alkalolu were paid each year al biet in full.
It should also be made clear that alkalolu are paid commission because they were to help process servers collect compound rates in their respective areas. Regrettably, no single alkalo is engaged in such activity and they are paid for every property transfer effected within their locality.

 

9.0 CEO & Director of Finance
It is an unfounded, yet serious, allegation that the Director of Finance and I as the CEO were not cooperating with the Interim Committee and were sabotaging their efforts. The fact of the matter is that the Chairman had no clue about local government operations and was all the time overstepping his mandate. He would for instance summon middle level or junior staff and ask them certain things, which information I could have readily provided. He would ask for documents from junior staff when I am the custodian by law of all documents and records of the Council.

I engaged him in the presence of his deputy, Maria Dacosta, and told them clearly that by dealing directly with the staff and involving themselves in the day-to-day running of the council, they were acting beyond their mandate and undermining my authority. The practice however continued up to their last day in office.
The Interim Chairman further went out of his way instructing me to pay an invoice for the painting of the McCarthy Square for D70,000.00 and another invoice of D30,000.00 for the hire of a public address system for the independence celebration in Banjul. I refused to honour these requests insisting that KMC does not have anything to do with the repainting of the McCarthy Square and that in order for me to authorise and pay anything in relation to the independence, I must get a request from the organising committee.

He forwarded to me another request to pay D21,000.00 to one of the Committee members for working long hours in the market and buying refreshment for collectors. I also refused that. From that point on, I saw him change towards me and knew he was bent on seeing me out of the way. Attached are copies of those requests from him and Mr Kanjura Kanyi.
The Director of Finance also became his target because each time he asked her to give him information on documentation without my knowledge, the Director of Finance would insist that such information should and will only be provided through me.

 

10.0 and 11.0
The Bakoteh Fish Market and the Charles Jow Memorial Academy are administered by boards and as such, Council should not be involved in their day to day running

12.0 market canteen allocations
Contrary to the report, all market canteens were allocated according to stipulated guidelines highlighted in every offer. Those who were allocated went through formal interviews and allocations were done based on set criteria. Records are there to show that the whole process was systematic. Naturally, where everyone wants and only a few can have, some are bound to be dissatisfied.

 

13.0 Audit of KMC
It is rather ironic that the report is calling for a follow-up on the KMC audit recommendations when the Interim Chairman went to different levels of government to say that the KMC was not audited for three consecutive years.

It is worth mentioning that the KMC was the only council which was audited up-to-date before the change of government. Shortly after the change of government, the national audit was asked to conduct a special re-audit of the KMC which lasted about 7 months.
Even on the day the Director of Finance and I proceeded on our annual leaves, on the instructions of the Ministry, the auditors were at KMC to take on board our responses to their queries as well as to make verifications on certain submissions.

Nowhere in the queries was any allegation of fraud. All our queries were related to issues one will find in any normal, proper audit of an institution that conducts high volumes of public financial management. All our queries are accompanied with sets of recommendations and as Accounting Officer, I am more committed than anyone else to ensure the adequate implementation of audit recommendations.

 

‘Big ticket items’
Under the so-called big ticket items, there is no item that was not or could not have been explained to the comprehension of the informed management committee. It is mere dramatisation of issues based on an ill-conceived agenda. I had clarified all 9 issues earlier except the Mbowen Clinic Medical Contract.
The Council has a very viable and legitimate medical contract with Mbowen Clinic delivered strictly in accordance with procurement rules. Files are there to prove my point. As a matter of fact, this arrangement was thoroughly explained to the Interim Chairman and he personally concluded that Mbowen Clinic was probably at the losing end of the deal. It is weird therefore that the issue could be highlighted in such manner, just as a host of others.

 

Conclusion
Although presented as a Committee Report, there is every indication, that the report of the Interim Committee was doctored and premised on the mind frame of the Chairman.
He succeeded in controlling the narrative and was always the one to set the tone and dictate the tune. The Chairman and another member of the Committee determine what and what not the Committee would do because they boast about dining and meeting the president each time they wanted.

The Chairman said to me that I ought to be careful of that Committee Member, who is said to be an “adviser” to the President because he dines with the President and says a lot of things to the president. I told him clearly that I would never be intimidated by anyone just because they see and dine with the President. I insisted my concern was to be able to do my job the right way.
The Interim Committee did a great disservice to the Government and the people of the municipality by engaging in a witch-hunt in broad day light. The report is replete with lies and distortions. It is not a true reflection of the state of affairs at the KMC.

A true story of affairs of the council was presented to the interim management by way of status reports from all directorates of the council. They were provided with our five-year strategic plan, waste management plan and a host of internal management tool. Instead, they rolled out a malevolent, vitriolic and destructive agenda that almost destroyed the fabric of KMC’s institutional character through excessive exercise of their mandate.
Even though there was a constant attempt in the report to tarnish the good image of myself and the Director of Finance, we happen to be the most competent staff of the establishment in our respective disciplines.

We were both adequately trained in our jobs and were recruited by the competent authority in accordance with provisions of the Local Government Service Scheme which clearly stipulates that appointments and promotions in the service will be based on merit. I have a very clean public and career record in this country unlike the chairman whose public record is littered with scandals from his days at the Social Security, MRC, Elton Oil and GFF. He is not of reputable character. He lacks the moral credence to accuse anyone of dishonesty. I was very much aware that the chairman was very much into misrepresenting my administration at various levels of the Executive where he falsely claimed that there were 200 ghost staff at KMC and that the Interim Committee had doubled the council’s revenue in just over two months.

When the latter was published in a local newspaper as part of his publicity stunt, I confronted him in his office and told him in his face that the information he gave to newspaper was false. I told him he needed to set the record straight which he promised to do but failed to.
I had always believed there would come a time when the Executive would want to hear my side of the story as in other cases. Unfortunately, I was never presented with such opportunity.

The Interim Chairman […] is so full of himself that he assumes he knows every subject more than those who could give him lessons on those very subjects. He said in many sessions openly that the KMC was “a target” and that I as CEO should “fasten my seat belt” because then mayoral candidate Talib Bensouda was “a non-starter who had never burnt his fingers”. whatever that meant.
I stand by these statements and will be glad to answer or explain any queries.

Thank you.

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