The proprietor of the Atlas Trading Enterprise Mr. Mbaye Bahoum has debunked what he called the false and unfounded claims recently made by a Freedom Newspaper opinion writer, who alleged that he (Bahoum) was complicit in a D11 million dalasis kickback procurement scheme at the Health Ministry. Bahoum, a Health Ministry vendor, said, the author of that opinionated piece was not only “misguided but poorly informed” as far as the Health Ministry’s dialysis procurement consumables were concerned.
The author of the piece, who claims to be “an insider” at the Health Ministry, has accused dialysis supplier Bahoum and Permanent Secretary Muhammed Jaiteh of over billing the government and in the process, he alleged that the duos had pocketed D11 million dalasis from the D23,367,380 million dalasis dialysis consumables procurement contract that the Ministry had awarded Bahoum’s Atlas Trading company.
Both Bahoum and Jaiteh had denied the allegations.
Mr. Bahoum phoned us on Wednesday, and he requested to be availed airtime on Freedom Radio to clear his name and his company’s image. He was scheduled to appear on Thursday’s Civic Education show, which he did.
“First of, the author’s allegations are not only false, but totally unfounded. The information he reported was inaccurate. There was no kickback deal in that single sourcing contract. I do not engage in any kickback. I am running a clean business. I deem it imperative to rebuff his pack of lies, calculated to character assassinate me, my company, and the hardworking officials of the Health Ministry. He doesn’t know what he was talking about. The procurement figures that he quoted in his piece was inaccurate,” said Mr. Bahoum.
Bahoum said the dialysis consumables contract that the author reported on, was initially tendered and an unnamed company was declared as the presumptive winner of the contract.
“Company A was declared as the presumptive winner of the that bidding. The prices he provided were the cheapest. He had ninety days to provide the dialysis consumables supply. I emerged as the second bidder. The dialysis consumables were needed urgently, and none of the bidders including company A had dialysis consumables to supply the hospital. I had dialysis consumables in stock. The bid was suspended,” Bahoum explained.
“I was later contacted to send them a quotation of four months’ supply of dialysis consumables. This was a single sourcing contract. I sent the quotation to them. I used to sell them the temporal catheter for each D4,500 dalasis and I reduced it to D3,500 dalasis. They wanted twenty temporal catheters. They also asked me to supply them ten permanent catheters. The permanent catheters cost them each D12,000 dalasis. The permanent catheters are more expensive than the temporal ones. They last longer than the temporal ones. Poor people can barely afford permanent catheters. The figures the author quoted in his piece, do not matched the figures I gave you. I want to believe that he is being used by someone to spread false information. He is poorly informed,” Bahoum remarked.
Bahoum said he has so far supplied D4 million dalasis worth of dialysis consumables to the Health Ministry. He said he is yet to be paid.
“I pre-finance my quotations. I have been dealing with the Edward Francis Hospital for years. I have in the past even write up debts that they owed me. I also supplied free dialysis consumables to patients through the hospital. I would even give them fares to travel to the hospital. My heart is with the dialysis patients. I am ready to do everything to help them out. My business is for profit, but dialysis means a lot to me. I would rather not make profit and help save their lives than to watch them to die” he said.
Bahoum said the contract that was given to him was D23,367,380 million dalasis and not D23 million as falsely reported by the author of that piece.
“His claim that we pocked D11 million that from that single sourcing contract is a blatant lie. It is fabrication of his own imagination. Does he think that I am a son of “Tacko”? That I will give away my money? That is utter rubbish. He is lying. There was no over billing for kickback of any sort. There was no shady deal in that procurement. It is a four-month supply contract. It was done through single sourcing because they needed dialysis consumables urgently,” he added.
When asked whether he knew that the Public Procurement Act requires that all government procurements more than D10,000 dalasis should be placed in a public tender for bidding, Bahoum said the decision for bidding wasn’t his. He said he was contacted by the relevant procurement officials to help supply the Ministry D23,367,380 million dialysis consumables for four months.
“Yes, the contract was a single sourcing contract. There are circumstances that occasioned the move. I was told that they urgently needed the dialysis consumables. In my original bid, I stated in my tender that I was going to make my supply as soon as possible. I was contacted after the original tender was suspended. Regarding the GPPA Act, I have nothing tell you on that. I am a school dropout. I dropped out at form four. I am a supplier, and I supply what I am contracted to supply,” Bahoum remarked.
Bahoum wouldn’t disclose how many times that he had been awarded a single sourcing contract to supply dialysis consumables to the Health Ministry. He said we should confine the interview to the author’s allegations.
He wouldn’t also not name the names of the procurement officer(s) who asked him to send a quotation to the Health Ministry in regards to the requested dialysis consumables supply.
Bahoum said he welcomed the Freedom Newspaper’s disclaimer on the author’s piece.
“It was good that your paper made a disclaimer on that write up. I want to believe that the author was being fed by one of the committee members. The information he reported was false. I have businesses around the world. I even conduct business in the United States. I would not sit by and allow someone to impinge on my reputation and that of my company. Everyone can attest to my helpful role towards the dialysis patients. My hands are clean. Corruption is not part of my business. Let that author get that. I want to thank you, for availing me, the opportunity to be heard,” Bahoum said.
Bahoum said The Gambia is only country in the region, where dialysis treatment is provided to patients for free. He said the government is footing for the bills for such treatment program.