By Ramatoulie Jawo
The Auditor General of the Gambia, Modou Ceesay, on Tuesday revealed to the National Assembly Standing Committee on Finance and Public Accounts Committee (FPAC) that the government failed to gazette the Banjul Drainage, Roads and Sewage Project before the contract was signed. It was, he said, gazetted eighteen (18) months after the contract was signed.
Mr. Ceesay said the Government of The Gambia through the Ministry of Transport, Works and Infrastructure signed a contract with GAI Enterprise for the Banjul Drainage, road and sewage project in May 2019 amounting to $35,720,000.00 equivalent to D1, 82,720,000.00 following the approval by the President and Cabinet.
“The project is significant in my audit of the financial statements as the amount involved is so material and required a thorough review of procurement files and discussions with officials at the Ministry of Transports, Works and Infrastructure as well as personnel at the Office of the President. Therefore, experienced audit personnel were attached to obtain complete information as well as conduct interviews with relevant officers. Consequently, I developed procedures which among others included the following discussion with the officials at the Ministry of Transport, Works, and infrastructure to understand the procedures followed in awarding the contract,” the Auditor General said.
The Auditor General said he requested a copy of the gazette from the Ministry of Transport, Works, and Infrastructure to confirm whether the award has indeed been gazetted before the signing of the contract.
Mr. Ceesay said he reviewed the Gambia Public and Procurement Authority (GPPA) Act and Regulations and other relevant laws and regulations that govern the awarding of a contract of such nature.
Mr. Ceesay said he also reviewed the legal opinion provided by the Ministry of Justice on the draft contract against the final contract to confirm whether anomalies were fully addressed, and recommendations fully implemented.
The Auditor General said he also reviewed the progress reports for the period under review and held discussions with the consultant and principal engineer supervising the project to confirm activities performed and progress reported by the contractor.
On the failure to gazette the award of Banjul Drainage, Roads and Sewage Project, Mr. Ceesay said the Ministry of Justice had advised through a letter referenced AG 313/01/ Part 6 (16) dated 18th June 2019 that the approval by the President and Cabinet of the award of the project to GAI Enterprise in May 2019 amounting to $36,720,000.00 should be gazetted before the conclusion of the Engineering, Procurement, and Construction (EPC) contract agreement.
“I requested a copy of the gazette from the Ministry of Transport, Works and Infrastructure and I confirmed that the award of the contract was gazetted 18 months after the commencement of the contract. I advised the management that proper procedures should be followed to ensure transparency and accountability.
My reviewed of documentation and discussions with officials revealed that the Banjul Drainage, Roads, and Sewage (BDRS) contract was signed in May 2019 and tabled at the National Assembly on 12th June 2019 and the project is scheduled to be completed by November 2021. I reviewed the consultant’s report as well as the updated programme of work for the project and noted that actual work commenced on 18 March 2019, two months before the contract was signed and submitted to the National Assembly for discussion in June 2019. This further raised concerns over the transparency leading to the award of the contract,” he revealed.
The Auditor General told FPAC that he notices flaws in the Banjul Drainage, Roads, and Sewage (BDRS) project after reviewing the letter of Intent (Lol) from the contractor, GAI Enterprise who offered to pre-finance and implement the Banjul Drainage Road and Sewage Project.
The Auditor General further told FPAC that he noted major omissions such as detailed study and design, work schedule, and Bill of Quantities (BOQ) that were not submitted by the contractor (GAI).
Mr. Ceesay told FPAC that there is a likelihood that a huge premium would be paid to the Contractor for its contingency and risk.
“Modification to design may attract extra costs to the government,” he told FPAC.The Auditor General said there is also no evidence of due diligence conducted to confirm that the contractor has available financial resources including performance security to execute the project.