By Mama A. Touray
Testifying on the Procurement report of Banjul City Council on Tuesday, August 8, 2023, the Director of Procurement Policy and Operations, Ebrima Sanyang said Banjul City Council (BCC) received a subvention of two million dalasi (D2,000,000) from the Gambia Government for the procurement of three hundred and fifty-eight led lights for BCC to provide led street lights in Banjul.
The three hundred and fifty-eight (358) led lights project according to him worth Four Million Seven Hundred Thousand Dalasis (D4, 700,000).
Director Sanyang said BCC wanted to use part of the Two Million Dalasis subvention to provide the street lights, and they wants to purchase the red lights from Senegal because the kind of specifications they wanted was not available in Gambia.
Sanyang told the commission that Gambia Public Procurement Authority declined approval of the procurement stating that there was no procurement method indicated and the forms were not attached, as BCC wanted to procure the lights through single sourcing.
Ebrima Sanyang said the justification forwarded by the Banjul City Council was not in line with any rules governing the use of single sourcing.
Deputy Lead Council Patrick Gomez asked Sanyang “If a procurement organization wants to do procurement outside the country, how do you go about it?”
He responded that “It depends on the nature and the amount involved”.
On 30th March 2022, GPPA wrote to BCC advising the use of restricted tendering and Counsel Gomez asked Director Sanyang“Why recommend the use of restricted tendering?”
“The law requires that procurement should be open to competition. Whereas they decided not to use open tender, we recommended restricted tender. For restricted tender, you have to be qualified. The restricted tender has at least five (5) suppliers to compete as opposed to single sourcing which has one supplier,” Sanyang responded.
The procurement Policy and Operations Director informed the commission that Banjul City Council wrote back to GPPA seeking approval for the use of restricted tendering. And the Mayor of Banjul and the Mayor of Dakar decided to do a trial for 30 led-lights, which was opposed by some members of the BCC contracts committee.
Lawyer Gomez asked, “Can they do procurement of goods in the name trial without obtaining approval from GPPA?”
“They cannot do that. According to the Act, no procuring organization shall enter procurement without obtaining approval from GPPA at every stage of the procurement,” Sanyang said.
Sanyang said that the act was “completely wrong and should have been subjected to GPPA approval”.
“The implication includes possible corrupt practice,” He told the Commission.
He continued that he was informed that the led lights were purchased in pieces because BCC said they did not have funds to buy them at once, and even with the used piecemeal purchase the led-lights should have been approved by GPPA. But, he said, the Banjul City Council did not seek approval from GPPA.
Chairperson Bah However pointed out that the BCC letter to GPPA indicated that they have “Secured funding and intended to use part of the funds for street lights.” Ebrima Sanyang, in his reply, said he was informed that there was no tendering and the lights were purchased piecemeal.
Chairperson Bah further pointed out the inconsistency in the GPPA that on 12th April 2022, GPPA gave them two pieces of advice. “One of the pieces of advice was for the use of restricted tender and on the second page, GPPA gave another piece of advice to BCC to use the open tendering method”. Sanyangadmitted that it was inconsistent on the part of GPPA.
Meanwhile, the report indicated that BCC wrote to GPPA seeking approval for the shortening of the bidding period, Chairperson Jainaba Bah in her interjection noted that KMC and now BCC always request for shortening of the bidding period and were concerned about the blanket approval of the requests by GPPA.
“The reason for the 30 days is to give the suppliers ample time to prepare the bidding documents,” Ebrima Sanyang said.
Furthermore, he explained that the shortening of the time depends on the reasons provided. When asked by Chairperson Jainaba Bah as to whether the reasons provided by councils for shortening the bidding period were genuine or not.
He responded, “My opinion is that most of the justifications for the shortening of the bidding periods are not genuine”.
Lawyer Patrick Gomez said the more you shorten the time, the more you exclude potential suppliers. The witness agreed and said the reasons given were not genuine.