By Mama A. Touray
The procurement clerk at the Basse Area Council (BsAC) Muhammed Jawneh on Tuesday told the Local Government Commission of Inquiry that BsAC has no procurement plan for 2020.
Asked by Deputy Lead Counsel, Patrick Gomez, as to why he was not making decisions,regarding procurement in 2020, Jawneh replied: “Yes, I don’t know much.”
Chairperson Jainaba Bah asked the witness if he was only given instructions and told to fill out forms.
“Yes,” he admitted.
He testified that procurement rules were not mainly followed in 2020 because of his lack of knowledge and experience, adding that he was directed by his boss, CEO Ousman Touray, to do procurements and he felt that he was under a duty to follow those instructions.
Jawneh informed the commission that he reports directly to the CEO and that the CEO used to make minutes on documents and asked him to do procurement.
When asked by Counsel Gomez as to how many people were in the procurement unit in 2020, Jawneh said there were four and he was the secretary to the contracts committee.
Contrary to what Jawneh said, the compliance review report by the GPPA indicated that the contracts committee had only three people in the persons of CEO Ousman Touray, Director of Finance Lamin Suso and Procurement Clerk Muhammed Jawneh, which the witness later confirmed as true.
When asked if he has a record of all the transactions in 2020, Jawneh replied: “For me, any transactions I do, I give it to Finance [Unit]. I don’t have records. At the time my knowledge in procurement was limited.”
Witness Jawneh said procurement rules were not followed in 2020 due to many factors. When asked to state the factors, Jawneh said: “Seven boreholes were dug in 2020 through a singlesource and it was way beyond the threshold for single-sourcing. It was a directive from my boss, the CEO,” the witness said.
Jawneh said he was informed that the borehole project was part of the strategic plan of the Basse Area Council.
He further testified that the CEO, Yaya T.B. Ceesay, and the Chairman of the council all told him that the council did not have money for the borehole projects but that the contractor they identified was ready to do it and the area council would pay later.
“The contractor was a friend to the (former)Chairman of the Basse Area Council, FodayDanjo. There was nothing done in terms of procurement rules. There was no evaluation done and there was no bidding,” he told the commission.
He testified that there was no contracts committee meeting over the borehole project, adding that no procurement rule was followed.
On the D2m procurement of fuel from Jah Oil, Jawneh said: “Not all procurement passes through my office as far as procurement is concerned in the Basse Area Council.”
The witness said the contracts committee sits only when the need arises.
When further asked by Counsel Gomez whether he has minutes of the contracts committee meetings, the witness instead said the committee does not sit over the majority of the procurements.
Jawneh told the commission that the minutes of the contracts committee he provided the commission were doctored.
Chairperson Bah asked: “They asked you to prepare the minutes and backdate it.” And he responded: “Yes, I just wrote it and they signedit.”
The witness said there was high interference with the work of the procurement unit by the CEO and the Director of Finance.
The witness testified that he has been frequentlycomplaining about the interference with the work of the procurement unit. His letter addressed to the CEO, complaining about the interference with his work, was tendered and admitted into the records and marked as an exhibit.