By: Foday Manneh
The Gambian Ports Authority has denied involvement in bribery over a procurement contract worth D1.2 billion with the foreign shipbuilder Damen.
A press article from Reuters reported that a probe from the Fiscal Information and Investigation Service seized documents from the shipbuilder’s head office in Gorinchem during the raid carried out last week.
The raid reported by Reuters did not state any links to the GPA case or the World Bank’s fraud case against Damen, which happened in March 2021.
However, the Reuters report seen by TAT indicated that investigators intercepted discussions between Damen and GPA, who issued a tender to purchase a dredging vessel.
The discussion was between Damen’s agent Mr. Peter Post and the Harbour Master of GPA, Mr. Kullay Manneh, and his team.
The documents seized by the investigators, according to Reuters, show that an offer of €19 million (1,215,891,472.55 Gambian Dalasis) was made by Damen. In contrast, the actual cost of a 60m dredging vessel does not exceed €10 million (639,689,505.00 Gambian Dalasis).
The news agency described the award of this procurement contract to Damen by the GPA as the biggest scandal in The Gambia.
However, in response to this report, GPA, in a press release, says the information is cooked up by one of the bidders in their ongoing public tender launched to procure a new suction dredger but did not deny past businesses with Damen.
“The author is trying to link it with the investigation done by the World Bank in 2017 about the alleged bribery story concerning Damen and another West African country, which did not involve The Gambia.” The release said.
The GPA highlighted that the figures quoted in the publication by Reuters were announced during the bid opening for the current tender and that they are evident in their Service Rules book.
“Bids must be technically compliant by achieving the minimum technical qualifying score of 75% before prices are looked at,” GPA stated.