By Dawda Faye
The former managing director of SSHFC, Tumbul Danso, yesterday reappeared before the Janneh Commission and stated that they had to hire a consultant to have their problem solved. He said that the consultant they hired was Robert Aswanden to appraise the bids. He was shedding more light on the purchase, refurbishment and renovation of Ocean Bay Hotel by the corporation among other issues.
He told the commission that by the time the hotel was purchased by the corporation, he was the director of housing, noting that they got an invitation from the government for the purchase of the hotel.
Mr. Danso further testified that they went in for proposal, and that they had a series of meetings with the ministries of Finance, Tourism and the corporation for the purchase of the hotel.
At this juncture, he was given some documents which he went through. He confirmed that he had seen the documents before.
Counsel Batchilly subsequently applied to tender the documents which were admitted as exhibits.
According to him, before they were invited, he would not say they were to invest in the tourism sector, noting that this came as a gesture. He further testified that following the meeting, the corporation decided to purchase the hotel.
A letter dated 30th May, 2002, was shown to him, and confirmed that it was written to the Ministry of Finance for the purchase of the hotel. He confirmed that D104, 000,000 included the purchase price.
He adduced that they would not classify the hotel as a four-star hotel, further stating that when they bought the hotel, they wanted to transform it to a five- star hotel. Mr Danso disclosed that the hotel was purchased for D45,000,000 from the government, and that it was transferred by Babanding Sissoho to the government.
Mr Danso further disclosed that they realised that the money they had was not enough to upgrade the hotel to a five-star hotel.
He was again given a document to go through, which he did and said that he was in attendance in a board meeting. He told the commission that they had to hire a consultant who was Robert Aswanden to solve their problem.
At this juncture, he was shown a letter written to Mr. Aswanden and another letter, which he said he had seen before. The letters were tendered and admitted in evidence. Another letter dated 1st July, 2002, indicating the purchase of the hotel was shown to him, and he said he had seen it.
Mr. Danso testified that there was another letter to tender bids to renovate the hotel, confirming that a letter from the Ministry of Finance indicated that they should open up for bids, and that there were five bidders.
He also confirmed that eight companies collected the bidding documents. At this juncture, he was shown a letter which indicated that he attended a board meeting, which he confirmed.
Further testifying, he revealed that Mr. Aswanden was hired as a consultant to appraise the bids. It was put to him that Emporium was invited to submit a bid, and that it was Mr. Aswanden who appraised it, which he confirmed.
Mr. Danso also confirmed that Emporium had its weaknesses when it comes to constructional issues, and that two board members did not agree for the contract to be awarded to Emporium.
He told the commission that there was a resolution to change the name of the hotel. At this juncture, documents indicating the renovation and refurbishment of the hotel were tendered and admitted as exhibits.