By Landing Ceesay
The depot supervisor of Gam Petroleum (GP)Storage Facility Depot in Lamin Mandinary, Lamin Touray started his testimony in the corruption scandal trial at the High Court of the Gambia as the second Prosecution Witness (PW2).
Mr. Lamin Touray, who doubles as the Acting Operations Manager of at the Depot in Lamin Mandinary appeared in court on Monday as second Prosecution Witness (PW2) in the trial involving Saihou Drammeh (1st accused), former Managing Director and Lamin Gassama (2nd accused), former Operations Manager of the institution.
The 2 staff are charged with 8 counts (3 counts of economic crimes and 5 other counts) in the alleged corruption scandal.
The eight counts are levelled against the two in their maiden court appearance at the High Court in Banjul on 4th April 2022 presided over by Justice Haddy Roche.
Their appearance in court followed their arrest regarding the allegation of their involvement in the alleged corruption, malpractices and the missing of USD 20 million at the depot.
Lawyer M.D. Mballow represented the State, while lawyers Christopher E. Mene, B. S. Conteh, S. Akimbo, Bakurin Pauline, and Sasum Sillah represented the 1st accused and 2nd accused persons in the hearing.
Mr. Touray told the court that he knows both the accused persons and that he is directly answerable to the Lamin Gassama (2nd Accused).
Explaining how petroleum products are stored at the Gam Petroleum depot, Mr. Touray said as per his knowledge, Gam Petroleum used to be the only storage facility that has business relationships with Oil Marketing Companies (OMCs); as well as the International traders.
He said the Oil Marketing Companies are Atlas Petrol station, Jah Oil, Petro Gas, and GNPC Gambia.
“These are the ones I can remember,” the Witness told the Court, and also said the International traders include TRAFIGURA, PSTV and ADDAX ENERGY.
The state lawyer then asked him the kind of relationship Gam Petroleum has with the International Traders; and Mr. Touray responded that Gam Petroleum has storage agreements with the International Traders but that agreement is beyond his control.
“Do you have anything to do with these International Traders as the depot supervisor?” State Lawyer M.D. Mballow asked the witness.
“Yes, I am the one responsible for discharging their vessels, tankers and products. Their products include GASOLINE, GASOIL, Jet Fuel or Kerosene, fuel oil or HO4 and Liquidated Petrol Gas (LPG). When the products are coming, we will be notified that the vessel is coming and the nomination quantity will be indicated to us by the operations manager (2nd accused). Ship and shore checklist will be prepared and on the first sheet of the checklist will include the quantity in that vessel we will discharge; the name of the trader will be indicated,” the witness responded.
The witness continued that the checklist would be handed over to the loading master, and said when the vessel arrives at Bart, the loading master marine team, which include the host connection team, mooring team; loading master himself, and cargo surveyor will be sent on board.
“When they arrive on board, the connection team will proceed to the connection area together with the crew members of the vessel. They will continue to do the connection. While the loading master and cargo surveyor will proceed into the cargo control room where they will meet up with the chief officer of the vessel to conduct a safety precaution meeting. During that meeting notice of the checklist will also be tabled for corrections and signatures, discharging plans will be discussed at the meeting,” the witness said.
PW2 told the court that the cargo documents will be requested and the checklist will be signed by both parties who are the loading master and Chief Officer of the vessel; adding that after the completion of that process, they will now agree on the quantities to be received.
He said ship and shore checklists are filed at their tanker documents, but before they used to be filed at the 1st accused person’s office.
“After the completion of the safety precautions meeting, the Chief Officer, loading master, and cargo surveyor will now proceed to inspect and do the measurement of the tanks. During that measurement, the figures will be recorded as well as the temperature figure will also be recorded. After the measurement, they will come back and calculate what they have measured. They will now confirm the figures they agreed during the meeting regarding the quantities,” he said.
Mr. Touray said after the calculation, the loading master will now establish a communication channel between the ship and shore, and that he will communicate via VHF channel.
He said after establishing a communication channel between the ship and the shore, the loading master will now inform the receivers of the situation on board and ask them about their readiness to receive the products.
“The receivers will now start lining up by opening the receiving tanks of the products. After confirming that the receiving tanks are open, the loading master will now communicate with the connection team whether they are done with connection. The loading master will now instruct the chief officer to start pumping. When the Chief Officer starts pumping, the loading master will now contact the shore whether they start receiving the products or not,” he said.
The witness further told the court that when they receive the products, they conduct quantity control, and then do tank measurement and this will be done by the shore representative and the cargo surveyor.
Mr. Touray told the court that after the measurement, they will now convert the measurement height into volume to establish the out turn quantities.
He said the out turn quantities will be sent to the 2nd accused person’s office for confirmation, and the survey will now sign the out turn quantities.
The witness said after the completion of the measurement, the surveyor would now send it to the traders, informing them that they have now received or discharged the quantities that they were supposed to receive or discharge.
“The International traders will now release the quantities to the Oil Marketing Companies (OMCs) who bought products from them. The release order will be sent via email to both accused persons (1st and 2nd). After releasing the quantities, intern transfer will now be prepared by the 2nd accused person. Intern will now be sent to the OMCs, the traders will now know the quantities that have been deducted from their accounts. The OMCs will now know that they have received the products in their names. The OMCs will now start collecting their products bit by bit.
“The released quantities will be communicated to the control room to monitor how much each OMC should uplift based on the release. OMCs will send in their delivery notes to the control room and the control room will now give them the loading tickets. The loading tickets will be prepared based on the quantities given to them as well as the delivery notes. We do quality control of the products, followed by tank measurement or deep INS to establish the products figures at the stock. The quantities will now be calculated with a computer to generate the depot stock statement. We will take it to the accused persons offices for them to know the physical stock at the tanks. This will help them to know the empty space of the tanks and also for them to know the physical state of the tanks,” the witness said.
The State Lawyer Mballow then asked the witness how they generated the stock statement; and he said it is generated by the measurement report stipulated on the result sheet of each product.
Case adjourned to Tuesday (today) for the witness to continue his testimony.