Thursday, March 4, 2021

‘Inheriting Power Plant Facility From GTG Was Disastrous To NAWEC’ Baba Fatajo

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By Mamadou Dem 

Mr. Baba Fatajo, the Managing Director of NAWEC, yesterday disclosed to the ‘Janneh’ Commission that NAWEC’s taking over of the power plant facility at Brikama from Global Trading Group (GTG), was a disaster to the energy Company.

Mr. Fatajo was summoned on various issues surrounding NAWEC but prior to his testimony, Counsel Bensouda applied to tender documents relating to NAWEC’s contract produced by the witness, to form part of the exhibits.

According to Mr. Fatajo, he came in contact with Global Trading Group when the IPP was being installed at the Brikama Power Plant; that there was power outage which warranted Mr. Abdou Jobe and Tijan Bahum to be whisked away by the NIA to Mile II prisons.

Fatajo said Mr. Bazzi invited the senior management of NAWEC for a meeting in his office at Standard Chartered House, where he told them that Bazzi had no hand in the power outage and advised them to be patriotic; that there would be zero-tolerance and whoever was found wanting, would face the consequence. He however said one of their members from NAWEC responded to him that no one could tell them to be patriotic because they did not have a second home like him.

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He confirmed that this meeting was held before the management contract; that it was in 2006 when the contract was completed and they knew that Mr. Bazzi was close to the former president and there was something was in the offing.

Mr. Fatajo testified that the power purchase agreement with Global Trading Group (GTG), was to provide four generators but the guarantee was for 22 megawatts. It was put to him by Mrs Bensouda that Mr. Alagie Conteh said in his evidence that the price was that of used generators.

In response, Fatajo told the Commission that the capacity charge was high, noting that the price of fuel kept changing; that they had half of the capacity available since the guarantee was for 22 megawatts, and that this was why they told them to respect the capacity charge.

Fatajo further said the purpose would have been defeated if they could not provide the volume of electricity required; that the relationship between the Bazzi group and the former president was difficult to tell.

According to him, the two generators before the contract was entered into, were unreliable and the maintenance was not adhered to; that GTG was more of a player and a referee at the same time.

Mr. Fatajo added that they decided to have an assessment of the generators and they officially took over the operation of the plant in 2013; that there was a letter from the office of the former president asking them to suspend the capacity charge for two years; that there was an agreement between GTG and the former Government, to hand over to NAWEC, further stating that they took the entire plant. He told the Commission that on the 5th of November 2015, there was transfer of ownership.

At this juncture, Mr. Fatajo disclosed to the Commission that taking over the GTG and the Power Plant facilities from the Bazzi group, was a disaster to NAWEC; that there were observations by NAWEC’s MD that the Company was at risk with the intervention of the former government.

According to him, there was no corresponding measures to ensure that NAWEC was protected; that the Company became bankrupt, and other sister institutions like SSHFC became bankrupt, as they tried in assisting to maintain NAWEC’s operations.

He adduced that this was a bad situation for the Company and that for NAWEC to be able to service the IPP, it should be able to generate income.

At this juncture, Counsel Bensouda applied to tender the minutes of the negotiations between GTG and NAWEC for power generation and a letter dated 20th June 2012, for the handing over of the IPP at Brikama and other relevant documents as exhibits. The Energy Company boss disclosed that there was a Project Manager hired by GTG for the evaluation process and GTG bid for the contract and together with her associates (PCG).

Mr. Fatajo further indicated that there was a total loan of $22,000,000 and that $17,000,000 was for the supply of fuel; that there was an executive directive that the contract should be given to GTG and PCG, when it was put to him by Commission Counsel that the bidding price was less than the contract sum. On Generator No. 9, he said it was in service since 2009-2010, stating that it had a major breakdown. He told the commission that Venezuela’s funds were partially used for the purchase of the said generator.

At this juncture, Commissioner Saine urged him to work with his finance team and furnish them with all payments which were made by NAWEC to GTG among others, so that they could quantify the amount and know how disastrous it was. In response, Fatajo said the finance men at his office are working on it.

Mr. Fatajo further testified that they were not directly involved at the beginning when SSHFC gave a loan to NAWEC to purchase the two generators for the electrification of West Coast Region; that the date for the contract which was signed with SSHFC, was on the 2nd of October 2007.

At this juncture, Counsel Bensouda put to him that a sum of €4.3 million should have been transferred to GTG account, and he responded that GTG told them that they needed €1.3 million and later €1.8 million was paid for the provision of auxiliary equipment, which were part of a loan from SSHFC.

He responded that he could not remember as to how the loan given to NAWEC by SSHFC, was going to be paid by NAWEC, noting that the loan is outstanding.

Documents relating to the said loan were tendered and admitted as exhibit. Fatajo finally told the Commission that out of the two generators, one is operational while the other one is out of order.

Sitting continues today.

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