By Makutu Manneh
Local Government Commission of Inquiry has on Monday September 2023 invited contractors to explain their engagement with Basse Area Council on the bidding procedures and stage of those projects.
Ebrima LS. Marena, owner of Alkamba Stores General Construction and Suppliers informed the commission that he was awarded a contract by Basse Area Council in 2022 for the rehabilitation of an old market by the river side.
He said the sum for the project was Two Million, Four Hundred and Eighteen Thousand, Five Hundred and Eighteen Dalasis, “After I was awarded the contract nothing happened, I did not hear anything from them although I did some follow ups but nothing happened, no further steps were taken meaning the contract was never executed.”
Marena said the market is still dilapidated, adding that he has no idea regarding why the project was not implemented since he was awarded the contract.
He told the commission that he was aware of this contract through Yaya Ceesay, a development officer of the council and on one particular day, he went to the office of Ceesay and he accompanied him to the project site after which he prepared his bid and submitted it to the procurement office of the council. He said this procurement officer was one Mr. Jawneh.
He added that on the 5th of March 2022, he received a message from Jawneh saying “Hello my boss, Good morning and how are you and the family? Hope you are doing great? Yesterday we met as a contract committee and evaluate the bid submitted by the contractors therefore for your information after scrutiny Alkamba Stores emerged as the winner till on Monday bye Jawneh.”
Deputy Lead Counsel Patrick Gomez told him that is a “very informal” letter from the council.
He equally informed the commission that he was never paid any sum as the project has never been executed and he also doesn’t know the other bidders of the contract.
He said his company is a sole trading business and he has been operating since 2012 and primarily operated in Basse.
He said in 2015, he had a contract with Gamworks where he fenced some vegetable gardens and constructed classroom blocks. He said he also had a contract with Gambia Teachers Credit Union for their regional office in Basse and Janjangbureh
Another person who appeared before the commission was Ming Wang, he came on behalf of Longjiam Company.
He explained to the commission that he is not the owner of the company neither is he a shareholder. He said he was helping this company during their contract with Basse Area Council as they were new in the country and their English was not good.
“I help them translate. When they heard that Basse Area Council was inviting people for biding they called me to ask if I know the council and if I can help them out,” he said.
He said this company built bridges and constructed roads for the council and the council owes Longjiam Four Hundred and Fifty-four Thousand, Three Hundred and Thirty-eight Butut.
Wang said the company has completed all the works and those who built the Samba Lolo Bridge went back to China, but those that constructed the roads are still here.
He said when he went to the council to for the money, he was told the council does not have money.
Ming Wang said he was living in The Gambia since 2014 and he has a Pharmacy and Clinic in Basse. Jainaba Bah Chairperson of the Commission informed him that since he is not a shareholder of Longjiam Company and some of the members of that company are still in the country, they will try to contact those people.