By Makutu Manneh
Tumbul Gassama, a market revenue collector for Mansakonko Area Council, has admitted before the Local Government Commission of Inquiry that revenue collectors sometimesgave collected revenues to the former Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Area Council.
The rules require all revenues collected should be deposited in the accounts of the council. The financial rules of the councils prohibits against handing over cash to anyone. Revenue collector Tumbul Gassama said she gave cash to the former CEOs when they request cash from her.
“The CEOs (Pa Ceesay and Seedy Touray) used to call me and take money I collected from me. They don’t wait for me to bank the money. After giving them the cash the director of finance used to give me a receipt. The receipt is what I used for reconciliation,” she said.
She explained: “The normal procedure is that money collected should be banked. But the CEO will call me and say they have pressing issues at the Council to take care of and I used to give them money. I don’t know how they spent the money I give them.”
She informed the Commission that such has happened many times including 2023 when CEO Seedy Touray called and requested her to bring the money she collected to the Council.
Tumbul Gassama, a resident of Soma, testified that she was employed in 2008 as a revenue collector and was promoted as overseer of the market in 2021. Gassama added that between 2008 and 2021, she was not promoted to any position as she remained as revenue collector. She said when she started she used to work at the Lummos and the Soma Market.
The witness statement of the witness and a letter addressed to her dated 31 May 2021 with the heading market overseer were both tendered and admitted in the records of the Commission and marked as an exhibit in a bundle.
Ms. Gassama went on to inform the commission that the people she worked with in the market were nine (9), adding that they do daily revenue collection from the morning to 3 pm.
She testified that after the collection she is required to deposit the monies in the accounts of the Mansakonko Area Council. She informed the Commission that the total daily collection for all revenue collectors is between Four Thousand Dalasi and Six Thousand Dalasi. She said the other market collectors used to give her money after collection and she deposits the total collection in the bank.
On her duty as an overseer, the witness said she is responsible for collecting the market GTR books from the council and distribute it among the revenue collectors. She added that after the collection she sits with the other revenue collectors and count the cash before depositing it to the bank.
The witness said the women in the market have been complaining that there are other vendors outside and making more sales than them. This is because the vendors outside sit outside the market and they are more accessible to the vendors than those inside the market.
The witness said the big market in Soma used to have two (2) taps, but currently only one is working. She added that the small market has only one (1) tap.
Chairperson Jainaba Bah referred the witness to the 2021 audit report by the National Audit Office that the markets lacked good toilet facilities, visible gaps in the roof, poor sanitary system, the toilet floor and wall were not tiled and there was no light. The witness admitted that the toilet facility is in a bad shape corroborating the audit report.
In response to the question by Commissioner Oreme E. Joiner regarding whether she has a supervisor as the market overseer, the witness said she used to have a supervisor but for a long time now she has no one supervising her.
When asked how many days she works by Chairperson Jainaba Bah, the witness said they work every day including weekends. The witness added that she deposits the monies collected on Saturday and Sunday on the following Monday.
Chairperson Bah informed the witness statement that the bank statements for Mansakonko Area Council indicated that there were not daily deposits made for revenue collection. She referred to the accounts statement from the bank. Chairperson Jainaba Bah further informed the witness that in 2018 and 2019 the maximum deposits were D3,000 but in most instances they deposited D1,000.
“The reason for the D1,000, we receive instructions to pay fuel and deposit the amount remainder. So, if we take from what we collected and purchase fuel, the remainder is usually One Thousand Dalasi,” the witness said.