Following the recent arrest by police in Banjul of Saihou Drammeh, the managing director, and Lamin Gassama, the director of operations, of Gampetroleum, TAT has now learned that one Kadijatou Kebbeh, an employee of GACH, was among those arrested.
Kebbeh, according to our sources, works with the Gambian businessman and GACH owner, Aboubacar Jawara.
His company, GACH Global, has entered into the country’s petroleum business, even though his business focus was on sand mining, tomato production, and the importation of general merchandise.
“In August 2021 Aboubacar Jawara was introduced into the petroleum business, and he won the GNPC Light Fuel Tender by offering a discount much lower than the only other bidder.
Our sources also said that since GACH was awarded the GNPC contract, it never imported any fuel into the country, but was releasing the product from GNPC “illegally”.
These are products belonging to importers like Addax and Trafigura, among others, and this facility was given to him “without the consent and knowledge of the depot management”.
This is according to UK-based Gambian social justice activist, and Intelligent analyst Sulayman Ben Suwareh, who first broke the news of developments at Gampetroleum in a statement made available to TAT.
Suwareh, who is among TAT sources, said in October 2021 the Ministry of Finance unilaterally reduced two components of the price structure.
This was the “importers’ margin from $100 to $70 per import cycle, thus causing major importers to stop imports into the country, as they claimed that they will be trading at a loss.
“Meanwhile, Aboubacar Jawara of GACH, and one Jaabi of Afri Oil, “continued to illegally draw from the Gampetroleum depot, when actually they had no stock there.”
“The depot was covering up by faking the stock levels to importers. This lead to a complete stock out of both AGO (Diesel) PMS (Petrol) at the Depot – Remember GACH never brought in any product into the country,” Suwareh added, “while some importers’ stocks were being taken illegally, and they have not been paid.”
One source said this was the cause of the last few weeks’ shortage of fuel in the country; since suppliers refused to bring in more stock, after Gampetroleum failed to pay them, and this triggered the ongoing scarcity of fuel in The Gambia.
“The major importers, such as Addax and Teafigura only knew about the situation, when they ask SGS to physically verify their stocks, and now they asking to be paid stock or cash at today’s prices.
TAT sent messages to the Police spokesperson, ASP Lamin Njie, who is yet to deliver the promised update on the police investigations.
Meanwhile, TAT understands from sources that an amount of $1 million did change hands, and is a subject of the police investigations.
This information has not been confirmed with other sources, and TAT is yet to receive the promised update from the police investigations.
It would be recalled that early in May 2021, President Adama Barrow made “an unannounced visit” to the Gampetroleum storage facility at Mandinari.
News media reports at the time said it was an opportunity for the President to get first-hand information about the state of affairs at the national fuel storage depot.
He reportedly said an investigation team was set up to find out what exactly was happening at the facility, and how it was managed.
“We want this place to be protected, taking into account that it’s a huge business and is managed by Gambians.
“Therefore, to move forward, we have to protect and secure this place; that’s why I am here,” Barrow said.
At the time, it was revealed that the government invested $50 million to build the facility, which has 17 fuel tanks with a total storage capacity of 51,000 metric tonnes of heavy and light fuel oils, as well as Liquid Petroleum Gas (LPG).
Also, 19 loading bays for tanker trucks, a state-of-of-art technology for gauging, a metering equipment, a fully-equipped LPG bottling plant and three off-shore pipelines of 2.5 km each to access the draft for berthing big fuel tankers.
The MD, Saihou Drammeh, told reporters at the time of Barrow’s visit that “the facility made over D200 million as profit in 2020. The facility also facilitates a storage facility for onward supply within the sub-region, especially to Mali, making it a key hub.”
Drammeh further revealed that the company in 2020 paid over D120 million to its major shareholders namely, the Social Security and Housing Finance Corporation (SSHFC) and the Gambia Ports Authority, “making it one of the highest dividend pay-outs in The Gambia.”