By Ramatoulie Jawo
Tijana B. Bah and Muhammed L. Dorboe, both concerned citizens, on Wednesday appeared before the National Assembly Petition Committee to clarify issues regarding their petition against the Gambia Ports Authority (GPA).
The petition seeks the committee to compel the GPA to make public its internal investigatory report on the alleged corrupt practices by its staff.
According to the petition earlier this year, it was discovered that several staff of The Gambia Ports Authority (GPA) were involved in a “massive theft and fraud” leading to the disappearance of millions of Dalasi.
It also stated that employees at the Rating Unit were allegedly issuing fake receipts, undercutting fees, and collecting bribes and inducements resulting in the alleged stealing of D4 million per week from 2020 to 2022, through the alleged corrupt practices.
Muhammad L Darboe said when news the of the alleged corruption was leaked to the media, the GPA management “hastily” constituted an internal investigative panel to look into the matter in response to the public outrage and concern.
“The panel’s report and recommendations were handed to the GPA management on the 16th March 2022. But the GPA management refused to release the findings in their entirety and the names of the investigative panel members,” he added.
Darboe said it is important to note that the matter is not before any court or any Constitutional or legal body and it is not also frivolous and or vexatious; but it’s purely in the interest of the public.
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He said more than 9, 000 people have signed an online petition by the online media outlet- What’s On-Gambia, for the GPA management to release the report, but to no avail.
“We trust you and your powers. The law has given you powers equate to that of the High Court in situations like this. This is why we didn’t think twice to invoke section 125 of the Standard Orders for you to take charge. This is a national interest,” he added.
His colleague, Tijan B Bah said they want the committee to compel the Gambia Ports Authority to make public their internal investigatory report on the alleged corrupt practices.
“The general public needs to know what is the outcome of their investigations because GPA is a public institution, ” he said.
Bah added that the time they were setting up the panel, it was published everywhere and reports of the investigation should also be published to public.
Honourable Sulayman Saho, a member of the committee asked the petitioners whether they did any possible means to get the report from GPA; and they responded in the negative and said What’s-on-Gambia wrote to the GPA requesting the report, but it was not given to them.
“That’s why we did not try to reach out to them because we said to ourselves that even if we reach to out them, they will not give us the document,” he said .
The chairman of the committee Suwaibou Touray said as a Committee they will do all their best about the petition.
“We will try all our best to make sure that your concerns are addressed and whenever you are needed here again, we will directly contact you,” he told the petitioners.