The Managing Director of the Banjul based Bawdo Transport Company Abubakar Bensouda, AKA Bakary Bensouda, the son of Lawyer Amie Bensouda, has been accused of unlawfully firing one of his employees Muhammed Faal. He did not stop at firing Mr. Faal, he also refuses to pay him his annual leave, Mr. Faal has alleged.
Speaking to Freedom radio Gambia on Sunday, Mr. Faal said it was this March that Mr. Bensouda fired him from his mechanical job. He and two other staffers of the Bawdo Transport were accused of being responsible for a missing wheel nut at their Senegambia garage. Their employer Bensouda decided to deduct the cost of the wheel nut from their monthly salaries. Though, he said, their supervisor Baboucarr Nyang was exempted from paying for the missing wheel nut. Muhammed Faal and Ousman Gassama, both mechanics at the Bawdo garage were fined.
Unhappy with Mr. Bensouda’s decision, Faal refused to allow Bensouda to deduct money from his salary. He had an argument with Bensouda’s office manager, a Lebanese lady. Bensouda even had to ask him to leave his office. He was subsequently fired.
According to Mr. Faal, he had been working at the Bawdo Transport for one year three months. Throughout his employment with the company, he said, he hasn’t been cited for any wrongdoing.
“I have been unlawfully fired. I haven’t done anything to warrant my sacking. I was not responsible for the missing wheel nut. My colleague Ousman Gassama has admitted responsibility for the missing nut. It is unfair for Mr. Bensouda to blame me for the missing nut,” Faal told me.
Bawdo Transport has 16 trucks at its Senegambia garage. The company is engaged in the sale of gravel.
According to Mr. Faal, the Bawdo Transport’s trucks have been registered as private trucks, even though the company has been engaged in commercial activities. The trucks are used to transport gravel from neighbouring Senegal to The Gambia.
“In the peak of the Coronavirus, we were made to travel to Senegal to collect gravel. The Bawdo Transport trucks were allowed to shuttle between The Gambia and Senegal. We were exposed to the virus. Even though there was curfew and lock down in this country, that never prevents Bawdo Transport from crossing the border to buy gravel in Senegal,” Mr. Faal remarked.
According to Mr. Faal, his neighbors used to avoid him because of his frequent trips to Senegal.
“Our neighbors used to runaway from us. They said we could be potential COVID-19 carriers. The Bawdo Transport company was only interested in making money and not our safety,” he alleged.
Faal further alleged that the Bawdo Transport trucks had never been stopped along the border. He claimed that Bakary Bensouda is filthy rich and is from a powerful family tree in The Gambia.
“ I recalled this day when the police stopped us when were heading out to Senegal during the COVID restrictions. We phoned Bakary Bensouda and demanded to speak to the officer. The officer was so nervous, he complimented Bensouda and we were let go,” he further alleged.
Faal said he has reported his case at the Senegambia police.
When his boss was contacted by the police, he said, Bensouda referred them to his lawyer. He told them that his lawyer was going visit the station, he added. Though, he said, Bensouda’s lawyer never showed up at the station. He was later asked to go home.
“I have also reported my case to the Labor Department. I was told by Garba Cham, in order for my case to be referred to the employment arbitration dispute commission, I should pay D2,500 dalasis. I do not have money. I am currently unemployed. I am appealing for help. I can be reached at this phone number. +2202089916,” he said.
Meanwhile, Mr. Faal has been evicted by his landlord, even though he has been paying his rent on time. President Adama Barrow’s real estate company, Majum, is responsible for the rent collection for that property. He said he and his mum have been living at that Bundung Borehole property for the past 17 years.
“I just received an eviction letter from the Majum Estate Agency. The letter came three days ago, but it was handed to me today. I remember telling my employer Bakary Bensouda that I have been rent to the Majum Estate company. Bakary Bensouda himself told me that, that company belong to President Barrow,” he said.
Faal suspects that Mr. Bensouda might have allegedly orchestrated his eviction, though there is no evidence to substantiate his allegations.
“I have planted mango trees, flowers and Bananas at that property. I have been living there for 17 years. My eviction is questionable. They told me that the owner of the house wanted to renovate his property. I have been paying my rent on time,” he said.
Mr. Abubakar Bensouda could not be reached for comment at press time. Efforts to reach him by phone was successful.