In your publication of 5th June 2017 by a writer disguised as “a concerned Gambian,” he made malicious allegations against Castle Oil for the award of Heavy Oil Tender by NAWEC. The writer alleged, inter alia, that “Castle Oil was awarded after initially bidding a Premium of $58 per metric ton which NAWEC fraudulently increased to $90 per Metric Ton.” This skating assertion without substantiation is totally incorrect, painfully wrong, and indeed an insult to the administration of The Gambia. I find it baseless without any iota of truth and shows utter ignorance of the writer of the Tender and Bidding process and for that matter, about NAWEC. Making insinuations simply because one is hired to do so is the epitome of recklessness and irresponsibility resting from lack of national drive in our New Gambia. The question is why the writer has not contacted the authorities if he is so concerned and has proof of something going wrong.
To set the records straight, I shall present the facts so that the reader can appreciate that Castle Oil acted transparently and was awarded the contract based on Company merit and exuberance of its business history.
There were six Tenders to the supply of Heavy Oil to NAWEC. Castle tendered Platt market Scan CIF North West Europe Cargoes + $58 per Metric Ton. The lowest tender above castle was ATLAS Oil of Platt’s North West Europe Cargoes CIF+$132.24 totaling USD 12,644,700.00 whereas Castle Oil total is $11,377,500.00, taking into consideration the Platt CIF North West Europe of 15th march 2017.
Clearly from the figures above, Castle Oil was the lowest bidder, saving NAWEC about $1,267,200.00.(One million, two hundred sixty-seven thousand two hundred Dollars)
Further still, the combined technical knowhow of Castle Oil and credible business dealings meant that Castle Oil was in a better position to provide needed resources to NAWEC. Castle Oil was able to provide not only a reliable supply of Heavy Oil but of better quality clean oil of about 2 per cent Sulphur grade, that would best maintain durability of the NAWEC engines. Contrary to previous suppliers, supplies were erratic, of poor grade oil (3,5%), causing lots of damage to the engines and of the many bottlenecks NAWEC is now facing. Needless to say that Castle Oil is a bonafide Gambian Company with many decades of experience, which makes it have an upper edge over other companies. Castle therefore, is in a reputable position to meet delivery targets without failure and to render service par excellence.
Perhaps it is important bringing to the attention of the readership, that loss of the NAWEC contract by EAGLE OIL solely triggered recent clandestine articles by a hired writer with the ultimate aim of distracting public opinion. EAGLE OIL has been the undisputed supplier of Heavy Oil to NAWEC during the Jammeh era, virtually taking monopoly and franchise because of the company’s association with the DICTATOR and Mohammed Bazz. The Bazzi Group had an abysmal history of supplying lowest grades of oil to no questioning, sometimes as bad as 3,5% Sulphur. Under Mohammed Bazzi and surrogates including Amadou Samba, Edi Jobe and the Ex President, Tenders were mere formality as they took up almost every Tender in the country. Under their unscrupulous supply pattern, millions of Dollars were scooped into their pockets with impunity. Given a New Gambia with new dispensations, NAWEC and the entire country deserve a better deal.
When IMF set the price structure for clean products in the year 1996 at the rates below, they were never observed.
Platt FOB MED +$32 per Mt as a margin for the importer on Gas oil
Platt FOB MED +$28 Per Mt as a margin for the importer on PMS
Mohammed Bassi and Co won a tender to supply The Gambia on these prices but went on to supply 4 shipments and then hiked the price to a staggering $170 per Metric ton without any permission from government, and later up to $380 per Ton , thus making a huge profit margin of about $3.8 million Dollars per month plus one million Dollar minimum on the Heavy fuel making a total profit of 4.8 million Dollars per month. Yet the tax on the 4.8 million per month of $1,680, 000.00 was never paid to government making $20,160,000 per year as unpaid Taxes. If this is extended over a 17 year period, then it will mean $342,720,000 is due to government. This can be verified with GRA and Ports Authority.
As a civil servant working in the appropriate Ministry, I am well aware of this anomaly and quite conversant with the Bazzi Group manipulations.
Continuing the saga of the Bazzi Group, over D85 million of storage cost is due to Gam Petroleum and over D44 million to Ports Authority. In spite of all these arrears, the group has the guts still to claim Duty Waiver on 84 million liters of Gas Oil being claim to run their tug boat (i.e.700,000 liters Gas oil per month x 12 months = 84 million litres) It will mean that over one billion, 260 million Dalasis is due to GRA as taxes.
Coming to the famous Mandinary Fuel Storage Depot, many Gambians still are unaware how Bazzi has taken the country for a pleasant ride in this project making. Given an actual cost of 7 million Dollars, the Bazzi Group in connivance with Yahya Jammeh inflated the cost to 50 million Dollars. Sadly, Social Security and Housing Finance Corporation were forced to use pensioners’ funds to meet 50 per cent of the cost component together with Gambia Ports Authority. Bazzi owns 34 per cent and 8 per cent to Fadi Majazi his partner and Amadou Samba of the storage Depot and yet we are surprised that Bazzi literally runs the show despite not holding the majority shares. He has stationed his own appointee as Managing Director, Michael Giraldine, under the Euro-African Group, wholly owned by Mohammed Bazzi himself. The other Senior Managers are Bilal Bazzi and Mohammed Bazzi Jr , both of his family. No wonder, Bazzi ever paid storage but until now that there is a change of Government. It is also known that from 2009 to 2012, the company never submitted an Audit Report, which is mandatory of all companies operating in the country. If there be any doubt about this statement above, let government invite international Valuers and investigators to ascertain and verify cost of the Depot and its earnings.
The pillage of national coffers by the Bazzi Group continues unabated and seems to have no boundary. Even the Flour Mill in Banjul estimated to cost around 2.5 million Dollars, the indicative inflated price is given as 17 million, thus giving these sadistic money launderers a steaming 16.5 million get away booty. This is certainly not profit in the economic sense, but plunder.
Going further on the Bazzi Group money racketeering and plunder of the Gambian economy, our own telecommunication company, Gamtel, was not spared of the mafia rage. For the short period the Bazzi group took over Gamtel, it monopolized the most lucrative sector of the company, The Gateway section. Millions of Dollars were siphoned out of the country to Lebanon. Then the group deliberately suffocated the Land Lines at the expense of Mobile Service Networks to flourish. That is why today land lines are almost nonexistent. Companies are even forced to use mobile phone lines as office telephone line which is a national shame.
On another sphere, Gambians may well recall the events of 2002, when Dictator Jammeh mobilized huge fanfare at the arrival of NAWEC’s biggest generator. From the Ports driving through Old Jeshwang, resulting to the removal of the Fly Over Bridge, then through Sere Kunda and finally to Kotu Power Station. While everybody was made to believe that it was a new Generator from Europe and that the age of blackout or electricity outage was over, yet everything was a scam. That Generator was racketed by Bazzi, Tariq Moussa and Amadou Samba, an old Generator acquired from the Islamic Republic of Mauritania given repaint. It was bought at a cost of 7.5 million Dollars and sold to the Gambia at 45 million Dollars. The then Managing Director at NAWEC, Alhagi Conteh, was sacked as he refused to sign consent that the generator was new. Today, the floundering of Bazzi and Co is the result of deep pain and suffering of the Gambian public at the lack of reliable power supply. Let the general public know that the problem of NAWEC is not shortage of fuel as such, but due to obsolete Generators which were fed by low grade Oil resulting to functioning deficiency and spare parts need.
In view of all these havoc inflicted upon the country by the Bazzi Group, all of whom are driven by monetary adventurism, why should this group be immune to probe and scrutiny by the new administration? Accountability is paramount and Bazzi, Amadou Samba, Tariq Mousa and Edi Jobe are accountable to the citizenry and Government of The Gambia. Government should spare no time to bringing these people to justice, to account for their pillage of the Gambian economy. What is even more annoying is that such colossal rip off of the country is going to nowhere else but to aiding terrorist organizations. Bazzi, we are told, may own Government of The Gambia well over 85 million Dollars in storage! His request of D3.7 million from NAWEC should therefore never be entertained but instead summoned to pay whatever he has to give government and be prosecuted.
We are aware that this Bazzi Group is now resorting to all sort of means to getting closer to the new government and corrupt them. As they are desperate for the status quo of the old regime to remain so that they can continue their grip on the economy, Tariq Mousa flew to Paris when President Barrow was there to have better audience with him. Similarly, most recently, Mohammed Bazzi himself flew to Saudi Arabia when the President and entourage were there. A Belly Dancer was brought to the Gambia during the Independence Celebration to dance for the President. At the extreme the Group is now resorting to escort services to woe corrupt government officials. Government is being warned to take particular care in its relationship with the Bazzi Group especially Amadou Samba and Tariq Mousa.
Lastly, it is to be said that a better deal has been realized between NAWEC and Castle Oil, for the general good of the country. In this new era of a New Gambia, we must look forward to better relationships, to harness talent and entrepreneurship of Gambians rather than to be castigating progressive ventures. It is fervently hoped that if anything, this rejoinder will help to throw light about the facts of engagement rather than negative allusions others may wish us to nurture.
BY A TRUE GAMBIAN CIVIL SERVANT