Njundu Drammeh
I have given a good read to the Press release from the GPA regarding its construction of a police station in President Adama Barrow’s home village, Mankamang Kinda. The Release is a mockery of accountability and truth, and terribly wishy washy. Here are my analysis of each part of the Press release:

“The GPA Management has monitored online publications purporting that the institution is sponsoring the construction of a police station at Mankamangkunda and wish to posit as follows….”

No! Incorrect… None is “purporting” anything here. It is a fact. There is evidence to support the online claim. And yes, “the institution is sponsoring the construction of a police station at Mankamang Kunda”. The Press Release confirmed it. It is the GPA which is trying to hoodwink the public or engaging in obfuscation.

“….The IGP had sent a request to the GPA for the financing of the construction of 3 police stations in URR, namely, Bakadaji, Mankamangkunda and Fatoto……”

Everything is unprocedural, if not wrong, about this If the IGP wants to construct police stations, the institution to send such a request to is supposed to be the Ministry of Interior which is the line Ministry of the Gambia Police Force.

This also smacks of very poor planning on the part of the IGP. When preparing its budget for the 2019 fiscal year, the IGP is expected to know and indicate in its budget the number of police stations he intends to build in 2019, the number of officers required, the overheads for these and every other expenditure to be incurred. This is because it is the responsibility of the State to provide security for its citizens and the IGP to ensure the State fulfils such an obligation. Poor planning on the part of the IGP is not supposed to ignite a SOS intervention from another State entity.

After all, since we are in the second balance of 2019 and the Call Circular for 2020 budget is already out, what is the haste in constructing 3 new police stations when there is no money in the kitty of the Police? Why can’t it wait for 2020? Citizens would be right to speculate that political expediency, and not community spiritedness, is what has precipitated this support.

When GPA constructs these police stations, would it also provide vehicles and fuel, stationery, equipment and all for their effective operation? And other allowances for the Police officers who would be posted thereto? A Force that doesn’t have money to construct 3 police stations cannot be expected to have funds for their running costs. Certainly, the IGP can only factor these in its 2020 budget. Or seek financial support from another State entity or benefactor.

“…which the Authority had considered under its CSR along the lines of similar interventions in the health, education, agriculture, sports and other sectors….”

Really? Corporate Social Responsibility (CRS) from a public enterprise set up by the State to provide citizens the relevant goods and services? Is GPA a business entity, solely profit making? What “social responsibility” is there to give back to its customers? Section 7 of the Ports Act (Vol.10 Cap 68:01 Laws of the Gambia) clearly spells out the “Duties of the Authority” while Section 7 outlines the “Powers of the Authority”. If there is any “CSR” mentioned in the aforementioned Sections, there are mainly related to the duties of the Authority, in particular staff welfare, staff skills development, provision of accommodation to staff, providing loans to increase efficiency of service of staff.

We know that under the Jammeh Government, public enterprises, corporations, MDAs, etc., competed for attention by sponsoring or funding every type of project, from beauty pageantry to youth camps to APRC meetings to furnishing of hospital wards to football tourneys. Some did most probably out of fear of reprisal; others, to outdo each other in the Most Favoured Enterprise status.

Unfortunately, these support are called “Corporate Social Responsibility”, both a misnomer and a disservice to the term. The support had no direct benefit to either their customers or the communities whose affected by their services or profit making ventures.

In a new democratic dispensation, i expect the GPA to not only do the right things but to also, and most importantly do things right. Instead of funding the construction of police stations or doing whatever it thinks are its Corporate Social Responsibility, the GPA should think of expanding and enlarging the port services, to downsize the congestion in Banjul and increase its volume, renovating wharves to revitalise the river transportation services, strengthen the capacities of its workers and improve its current services. It should concentrate on the effective implantation of its Master Plan, if it has one, and leave CSR to the private sector and others.

“….The design, tender and supervision was contracted to GAMWORKS under a Delegated Management Contract (DMC) and the construction works were awarded to the 3 most responsive local firms that submitted bids…..”

Ok. But your press release earlier claimed that online publications were purporting that you were sponsoring the construction… And you contracted the “design, tender and supervision” to GAMWORKS and you also awarded the construction works to the “3 most responsive local firms….? Who is actually sponsoring the construction if not GPA? How dare you got so actively involved in what you aren’t sponsoring? Certainly not out of being busybody. You have a vested interest.

“….Notwithstanding, the appropriate governance procedures were followed at the level of the Ministry of Finance and the GPA Board of Directors and decision was obtained for the relevant payments to be offset against the liability that the GPA owes to Government, which is normally settled in bi-annual installments….”

This is the cunning part. GPA owes the Government some money or payments and instead of paying that directly into the State’s coffers, it is offsetting that liability by constructing 3 police stations in where they are least needed. By building the Police stations, GPA is admitting it has the resources to pay its liabilities. Why it did not pay directly but waited until it got a request for support from the GPF should be a subject of audit enquiry. I smell foul play here.

I cannot understand why the Ministry of Finance did not ask the GPA to pay its liability directly into the Government accounts and the Ministry then decide whether or not the request of the Police meets its guidelines and rules for state funding. The building of the Police stations shouldn’t have been used as bargaining chip for GPA’s failure to pay to government on time. A dangerous precedent has been set, if it isn’t a tradition already.

“…The request for the financing of these projects did not ensue from directives issued by the Office of the President….”

Well…. It doesn’t have come from the Office of the President. This is political sycophancy in the open. And yes, GPA can claim that it has done such services in the past, to please the Executive. What can explain the choice of Mankamang Kunda for a Police station?

“….It is hoped that the above will serve to shed light on the handling of the URR police stations project….”

Nope….. It is now murkier, if not darker. You have dimmed the lights…. GPA is established for a purpose and management and the Board must work to fulfilling that. Gambia may be better placed as a seaport in the subregion but we have competitors too and how we expand and what services are available and their efficiency will determine how long we enjoy the luxury of our location. Corporate Social Responsibility won’t give us the game.

I hope that the Management will come out with better explanation. Hoodwinking the public is a disservice…. Public office is a public trust….