By Landing Ceesay
In the Gam Petroleum (GP) corruption scandal trial, the fourth Prosecution Witness (PW4) explained how petroleum products are uplifted at the depot in Mandinary.
Ousman M. Bah, supervisor at the control room of Gam Petroleum Storage Facility Depot in Lamin Mandinary appeared in court as fourth Prosecution Witness (PW4) in the trial involving two Staff of Gam Petroleum.
The 2 staff namely Saihou Drammeh (1st accused), former Managing Director and Lamin Gassama (2nd accused), former Operations Manager of the institution 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 their alleged involvement in the alleged corruption, malpractices and the missing of USD 20 million at the depot.
In giving his testimony before the court, Ousman M. Bah, said he worked at Gam Petroleum since 2009 as control room assistant, until January when he was appointed as the supervisor of the control at the depot.
Mr. Bah, said he knew both 1st and 2nd accused persons when he was employed at Gam Petroleum in 2009.
The witness said their job deals with the loading of trucks with petroleum products to different Oil Marketing (OMCs).
The witness said when they receive trucks at the depot, there is a place where the trucks are parked and then a copy of the delivery notes are sent to the control room by either the driver, security expert, or dispatching agents within the unit.
The state lawyer then asked him to tell the court what happens when they received the delivery note; and the witness explained that there are certain features that the control room needs to ascertain first, among which are the company logo, date, delivery ordered note and signature of the dispatch personnel, the stamp, the vehicle number, the driver’s name and the quantity of product requested on both oil and petrol.
“After receiving and confirming all these features whether they are correct. Then we have to consult the 2nd accused (Lamin Gassama, former Operations Manager) to know the status of that particular company; whether it is okay to load that particular product or not. If the okay is given, then we prepare a load verification ticket. This is where you have the truck details like the number of each compartment and the total capacity of each compartment,” the witness explained.
The witness added that the loading verification ticket also carries the information that is in the delivery note because the delivery notes give the load number, the driver’s name, and the quantity and that they use the delivery note to prepare the loading verification ticket.
Mr. Bah said these loading verification tickets help them to know each compartment and how much product is to be loaded in that compartment; and said both the loading verification tickets and the delivery notes are sent to the 2nd accused or 1st accused or to any other person delegated on their behalf.
“Afterwards, everything is confirmed, then the loading ticket is taken to security room 3 and handed over to the security personnel on duty who also confirms and signs before letting that particular truck for loading. When the truck is going in for loading, the security man on duty will hand the loading verification ticket to the driver who will then go with it to the gantry and position himself at the loading place. Then the driver will hand over the loading verification ticket to the loader. The loader will use according to what is in the loading verification ticket to load the truck,” he said.
“Do you know what happens when the trucks are loading while you’re in the control room?” the state lawyer asked the witness.
“There is a ticket printed in the control room, after every compartment that is loaded and the amount delivered is sent to the control room via the printer machine in the room through the batch controller at the gantry. This batch controller and the loaders are machines where you set the amount and then run the machine pump and after the delivery is set by the amount. When the loaders set the amount of the product with the batch controller and then start or run the machine. The amount set will be delivered into the truck. After completion, then this machine is reset and the information will be sent to the control room,” the witness responded.
PW4 went on to state that when tickets are sent to the control room and the truck is finally loaded, they take what is called the ‘final loading ticket’, which bears the company name, quantity delivered, driver’s name, the 1st accused name and the 2nd accused name.
Mr. Bah said after that, the ticket is now sent to the reception and there is a portion where the driver signs when he is satisfied with the loading of the different compartment by checking every compartment and confirms what he requested has been delivered with the help of a deep-stick.
“The driver signs the loading ticket and this loading ticket together with a delivery note and then sent to 1st and 2nd accused persons or any other person delegated by them to sign the loading ticket. After that, the loading ticket generated in the printer from the control room is photocopied. The driver receives his copy and the depot keeps the original copy and then the driver is allowed to leave the depot,” he said.
The state lawyer asked the witness if he could recall whether anything happened in October 2021 at Gam Petroleum concerning operations that affected the depot. “Yes, that was about the fuel shortage,” the witness responded.
“I did not know about the fuel shortage when this whole thing happened, because the control room is not directly dealing with trades and the physical deals carried out every day. It was difficult for the control room to know the physical stock level at Gam Petroleum at that particular point in time,” the witness further explained.
Asked by the State Lawyer whether the control room does anything apart from controlling the loading of trucks. “We send the daily uplift report to the 2nd accused after every completion of the loading of the daily transaction and that the uplift report carries the total summary of the uplift on that day; plus the complete details of all the transactions,” the witness responded.
Lawyer M.D. Mballow represents the State, while lawyers Christopher E. Mene, B. S. Conteh, S. Akimbo, Bakurin Pauline, and Sasum Sillah represent the 1st accused and 2nd accused persons in the ongoing trial.
The case was then adjourned for cross-examination, details of which will feature in our subsequent publication.