By Alagie Manneh
For the first time since  a major scandal erupted at the  country’s major fuel depot, the Gambia government has spoken out on the issue which by its own admission, has international reputational damage to The Gambia.
Last week, police arrested Saihou Drammeh, the managing director and Lamin Gassama, director of operations of the company as well as one Kaddijatou Kebbeh, a staff of GACH Global, sparking widespread speculations and rumours that top businessmen connceted to the corridors of power were involved in one way or the other. Police refused to give any details so  far but addressing a press conference on the saga yesterday,  Petroleum and Energy Minister, Fafa Sanyang, said: “As I speak to you, the general manager of Gam-Petroleum and the operations manager are helping police in their investigations. The government of The Gambia keenly awaits the outcome of the investigations and assures the general public needed actions will be taken according to law. The public is hereby assured that all measures will be taken to ensure smooth and uninterrupted supply of petroleum products.”
He added that Gam-Petroleum management has not provided any credible documentary evidence to explain the shortage. “This prompted a visit to the depot in order to review information in their IT systems to understand the issue better and it  was found that the software acquired to manage the depot’s operations is not being used and rather the depot operations were maintained on Excel file. Also, the management did not have a single account for each trader or OMC but transactions were maintained in Excel sheets according to vessels that deliver the fuel stock, etcetera,” he explained.
He said it was then that the task force looking into the matter decided to write to Oil Marketing Companies (OMCs) and traders to request details of their transactions with Gam-Petroleum.
“There were three major international oil traders whose stocks were held at the depot as a bounded warehouse and responses were received from eight OMCs; Castle, Petro Gas, Speed, Jah Oil, NP, Afri Oil, GNPC and GACH.

“The compilations of the responses received indicated that 9643 metric tons of PMS petrol, 16543 metric tons of diesel, 3445 metric tons of jet fuel, 17,793 metric tons of HFO belong to international traders while 1,110 metric tons of PMS petrol, 3711 metric tons of diesel and 684 metric tons of jet fuel belong to OMCs,” the minister said.

Mr Sanyang said following their initial assessment, it was discovered more than half of the fuel stocks that should have been at the depot were not accounted for.

“This prompted an official investigation into the matter which is ongoing. The focus of the investigations by security forces is to determine to whom and under what conditions the missing stocks were allocated,” he said. 

He stressed the reputational damage the matter could have on the country.

“International traders were concerned about the disappearance of their stock and a number of them flew from Europe to meet the task force. This has big economic implications for the country…” the minister said.

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