The investigations on corruption allegations at the Gambia Ports Authority (GPA) is been referred to the National Assembly committee on Finance and Public Accounts Committee and Public Enterprises Committee for further engagement with the National Audit Office and GPA management, as the committee recommended at the finalization of their report.
Speaking at the laying of the report by Hon Suwaibou Touray, chairperson of the standing committee on Public Petitions said the commission recommended that the ongoing investigations by the NAO and the Office of the Inspector General of Police be completed swiftly, report back to FPAC and PEC, and publish them. And that the PEC should monitor the effective implementation of the mitigating measures said to be put in place by the GPA (as mentioned on page 7 of the report).
According to him, this report contains the Committee’s procedures on the consideration of the Public Petition regarding alleged corruption at the Gambia Ports Authority. This petition filed by two Gambians in the name of Mr. Muhammed L Darboe of Kombo Central and Mr. Tijan Bah of Sandu District was presented to the National Assembly on 28th June 2022. Having fulfilled the admissibility criteria set in the Standing Orders, the Office of the Clerk of the National Assembly referred it to the Committee for review.
He added that while considering the petition, the petitioners were summoned to appear before the Committee on the 20th of July 2022 to shed light on the petition filed, clarify issues of concern to Members of the Committee, and make available other material evidence that shall support the Committee in its findings. The Committee heard from the witnesses; the management of GPA on the 22nd of July 2022 and the Managing Director of the Gambia Ports Authority on the 22nd of October, 2022.
However, it is understand that this petition raises a matter of huge national concern, knowing that the public institutions must be fit for purpose and believing that the public sector must be effective and efficient.
“I thank the petitioners, on behalf of the Committee, for filing this petition. Ensuring citizen participation in the decision-making process is the bedrock on which democracy rests. It ensures accountability on public institutions, which are financed by taxpayers’ money. The Assembly is crucial in ensuring sanity in the public sphere and institutions. That scrutiny on the performance of Ministries, Departments, and Agencies of the state is never more significant. It is thus envisaged that the public shall continue to engage the Assembly in raising and addressing matters of public concern,” he expressed.
Hon Touray noted that the Committee summoned the Management of the Gambia Ports Authority on the 22nd of July 2022. They made submissions on the issues; highlighting steps taken by the Authority, and mitigating measures are taken to prevent such reoccurrence.
Witnesses from GPA management Mr. Lamin Sanneh and Mr. Abdou Gillen who represented the Managing Director of the Gambia Ports Authority, Mr. Sanneh and Mr. Gillen explained that the Managing Director is on leave and out of the country. Additionally, they informed the Committee that the Deputy Director was at the time indisposed. They submitted chronologically, the steps taken by the Authority to address the matter.
When the news of the leakage of funds from the Traffic Department of the Authority, an emergency meeting was held on the 1st of March 2022 to look into the matter, he said, from the outcome of the meeting, a Taskforce was constituted on the 2nd March, 2022 to investigate the matter and report to the management. The task force was constituted by a panel of three officials of the GPA management, who were independent of the affected units and requested to conduct a quick probe on the matter and report back within 15 days, he explained more.