‘Lack of vision, personal interest cost us’- Bahmed Travel and Tours chief testifies
The chief executive of Bahmed Travel and Tour, Alhaji Ahmed Bandoh, has attributed the crisis which hit Ghana’s Brazil 2014 FIFA World Cup campaign to lack of vision on the part of the former sports minister, Elvis Afriyie Ankrah, and his Planning Committee members.
Bandoh, aka Bahmed, made the accusation during his evidence before the Justice Dzamefe Commission yesterday, but requested to give further details of his claim in camera, which was granted.
Basis for crisis
Bahmed believed that the flight and accommodation problems encountered by Ghanaian supporters in Brazil were due to the fact that the job was not assigned to competent people.
During cross-examination by Justice Senyo Dzamefe, Moses Foh-Amoaning and Kofi Anokye Owusu Darko, Bandoh admitted that he had no contract with the Ministry of Youth and Sports (MOYS) and was, therefore, not making any claims.
“We should do things to save cost,” the man who claimed to have handled the travel and accommodation arrangements of Ghana’s debut World Cup participation in 2006 in Germany without hitches, stressed.
Asked if he did not think he lost out in the 2010 and 2014 World Cup in South Africa and Brazil due to his political affiliation, he partly shared that view but also believed that a kind of conspiracy ruled him out of the race.
“I think it was a conspiracy. I think it has to do with people’s interests; those who matter, not about my political affiliation. I will give details in camera.”
Supporters and tournaments
In spite of the supporters’ brouhaha in Brazil, Bahmed stressed the need for supporters to travel to cheer on the Black Stars during tournaments.
“I think the state should still fund supporters to tournaments to cheer on the team. It influences the players on the field of play. But I think that should be done through corporate sponsorship,” he stated.
He also emphasised the need to cut down the number and consider mobilising Ghanaians abroad for that purpose since the intention of about 80 per cent of supporters who follow the various national teams is to seek greener pastures.
World Cup 2010 intervention
Briefing the commission on what transpired at the South Africa 2010 World Cup campaign which, he said, was handled by African Origin Travel and Sports Tourism and Kojo Bonsu, now Mayor of the Kumasi Metropolitan Assembly, it took his intervention to save some stranded Ghanaians in Johannesburg.
He explained that though he was not contracted by the government then, he had extra hotel rooms to cater for many fans since he was privileged to work for some mining companies and corporate clients.
He also said he spent £17,500 on the accommodation of stranded Ghanaian fans during the international friendly between Ghana and England in the UK in 2011.
Brazil 2014 let-down
During interrogation by Mr Jonathan Acquah, Bahmed who has been working with MOYS since 2004, told the commission that after the Black Stars’ qualification, he had an official from Emirates Airlines which was an official World Cup sponsor to airlift supporters from the West Africa sub-region to Brazil.
Based on that he travelled to Brazil to make accommodation and internal travel arrangements in Fortaleza and Natal and even entered into a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with a local airline to that effect.
He said on his return he informed the then minister, Elvis Afriyie Ankrah, about it and was given the nod and formally put in a request to the Planning Committee on January 14, 2014.
According to Mr Bandoh, he also received a letter from the Ghana Football Association (GFA) to proceed with his plans and later met the planning committee chairman, Fred Darko, on February 27 with his counsel and team of experts.
He, however, recalled that 10 minutes to that meeting, he received a telephone call from the Presidency telling him not to worry himself since the job had already been given out.
With his spirit dampened, he said he decided to forget about the whole process but was impressed upon by his lawyer to go ahead.
He revealed that at the meeting he warned the panel that he foresaw a problem ahead if he was not given the contract due to his expertise.
He also disclosed that the committee asked him to engage the services of caterers which he did by hiring Bahmed Food Services for them.
Bahmed wanted to tender a CD retrieved from Asempa FM to buttress the fact that an underhand dealing denied him the contract. However, Justice Dzamefe insisted on a formal written request from the Accra-based radio station before the commission could hear it either in camera or in public.
Before adjourning sitting to Monday, Justice Dzamefe appealed to the media to prop up the Stars to beat Uganda tomorrow, while urging Ghanaians to rally behind the team to ensure victory.