The Deputy Mayor of the Kanifing Municipal Council Pa Musa Bah has been caught on tape allegedly soliciting bribe from a local Gambian company, which has been contracted to print waste collection fee tickets for the council, Freedom Newspaper has gathered. The mayor was allegedly asking for a kickback of close to one million dalasis, per the audio recording that we had in our possession.
The company in question is called Ecotech. The secret recording happened during a meeting Deputy Mayor Bah had with One Gaston Meltus, a representative of the Ecotech company.
Ecotech was among the companies that bidded for the KMC waste disposal “tickets issuance” project. The company was awarded the contract following a review made by the Gambia Public Procurement Authority (GPPA) and the KMC.
Though sources have alleged that the company had bribed its way through council to be awarded the contract, a charge vehemently denied by Farimang Manneh, the co-owner of the Ecotech company.
“We did not give out a butut to be awarded the contract. We legally bidded for the contract and we emerged as the most prospective bidder. There are bad people at the KMC, who were using the loopholes at the council to steal. Now that we have closed those loopholes through this new ticketing system, they are out to smear our company, the mayor, and the Deputy Mayor. Through our company, the KMC revenue collection has increased overtime. They have nowhere to steal now,” Mr. Manneh told me in a phone interview on Sunday.
“We have been contracted to execute this project including the market, but they do not want the new ticketing program to be extended to the market. We have been closing their stealing networks. I am running a reputable business; we frown at corruption. Neither the Mayor, nor the Deputy Mayor has asked us for a dime. I will not bribe anyone to be awarded a contract,” Manneh added.
While sitting with Gaston, Deputy Mayor Pa Musa Bah, contacted the council’s retained lawyer one Mrs. Senghore to follow up with her on contract letter that they were supposed to issue to Ecotech company.
“Lawyer Senghore, how are things? How far have you gone with the letter?,” he asked.
Mr. Bah was informed by Lawyer Senghore that the draft contractual letter has been handed to the KMC Chief Executive officer for him to review it.
Bah was shocked that the KMC CEO hasn’t informed him about the arrival of the said letter.
“You know this CEO. She never bought it to my attention that the letter is already here, the draft, but tomorrow… Perhaps tomorrow, we will review it and get back to you,” Pa Musa Bah remarked.
“But we are trying to see how we can start by the 1st of May. We will try to review the draft tomorrow, then maybe by next week, you will get it. Let wait what comments the lawyer will give,” he added.
Bah then reassured Gaston that he was doing his part to ensure that the contract was awarded to Ecotech But for this to happen, he said, he needed what he called the blessing of his colleagues at the KMC.
“I am really pursuing on this thing. Now it is a done deal because the most important thing is the blessing of the General council, that one is final, so, when this comes, maybe I would take it to my committee to get their blessing, by the 1st you will start,” he said.
The Ecotech rep Gaston, in response, had this to say to Mr. Bah:
“It would be good if we start with the stuff because for us, we are drained. He then ran into laughter.
“But you will recover everything. For sure, for sure. And what are your plans for me?” Bah asked.
Did you discuss this one with Farimang?
Farimang, yes, yesterday, Bah said.
Bah said he had a conversation with Farimang Manneh on the alleged kickback, according to the audio recording, we had.
“500K, we will do it for you, then 400 for the council,” Bah told Gaston.
In response, the Gaston said:
“That’s fine, yes that is fine, so I wanted that to be clear.”
Bah was quick to caution the Ecotech rep Gaston to be mindful with the prices that they would bill the KMC, because he said, his boss Talib Bensouda was good at crosschecking prices offered by contractors.
“Now, you need to be very smart because Mayor, is a businessman and he always consult this amazon, all his whatever he wants to buy he will buy it through amazon and he enquires,” Bah remarked.
In the audio recording, Gaston could be heard expressing disappointment. He felt being unfairly treated. That he wasn’t given a fair share from the kickback deal, that KMC was allegedly over billed.
“I am very disappointed. Do you know how much I got D7,000? We will sort it out, me, I can handle it. When I came to this country, I came with half a million dollars,” Gaston said.
Meanwhile, Farimang Manneh, has denied the allegations. He has accused his enemies of spearheading a hate campaign to tarnish the image of this business.
“I am contributing my quota to national development. I owned different companies in this country. I have employed so many Gambians. I am here to fight corruption, to help employ my people, they have nothing to do, but to destroy a brother. They don’t want me to handle the KMC project. If they want, they can take the project from me. I have other businesses that I am running in this country. It is false for anyone to accuse us of bribing the Deputy Mayor,” he stated.
When asked why the Deputy Mayor should claimed to have discussed with the alleged kickback with him, Manneh in response said:
“I don’t know. I am not aware of the Deputy Mayor talking about that. If he does, it is wrong for him to say that. I have not discussed any kickback with him.”
Further asked whether he has received D450,000 dalasis from the council, Manneh was initially in denial, but only to confirm that he has indeed received money from the council.
“That money was part of a work that I have done for the council. It was not a kickback. I worked for it. The KMC owes me money. Since we started the contract, we have only been paid once,” he said.
Mr. Manneh’s co business partner Renson, a Tanzanian national, was contacted via Whatsapp for comment, but he said his network wasn’t good for him to speak to us.
The KMC Deputy Mayor Pa Musa Bah wouldn’t return phone calls we made on his line on Sunday. He wasn’t available for comment at the time of going to press.