BY OUR STAFF
THE City of Harare never officially received a container bearing sodium cyanide as due procedure had been followed to ascertain whether or not it had correct water treatment chemicals, The Standard has established.Despite an official inquest into how a poisonous chemical had been allegedly delivered at the water works, it has emerged that there was never a threat to Harare’s water supply as normal checking procedures were still to be done.
The development comes against last week’s allegations that the city’s water supply had almost been poisoned due to negligence or deliberate acts on the part of suppliers and transporters.
MT & N Distributors (Pvt) Ltd this year won a tender to supply water treatment chemicals, particularly granular aluminium sulphate, lime and activated carbon to the City of Harare for the period ending December 31 2012.
The company trades with Curechem Overseas (Pvt) Ltd, which sources the product from abroad and sub-contracts various trucking companies to deliver the product to the intended destination.
The required treatment chemicals are delivered at Morton Jaffray waterworks where MT & N’s sales representative normally meets the truck driver at the waterworks.
“The product is then checked by a Curechem Overseas representative, an MT & N representative and City of Harare receiving officials,” one source told The Standard last week. “Receiving attendants at the water treatment plant invite the foreman, resident chemist and a loss control officer to the receiving bay after a vehicle is allowed access into the premises.”
In a process that also involves the quality assurance officer, the foreman breaks the product seal, the source said.
After this procedure, the resident chemist compares the consignment documents and consignment labels in the presence of the other officials.
Only if the product is in order is a delivery note issued to the City of Harare by MT&N.
“There was no way the cyanide would have been put into the water when all these procedures were to be done,” said another source. “The procedures are so tight that its actually wishful thinking that a person can poison Harare’s drinking water”
Acting Mayor of Harare Emmanuel Chiroto told a Press Conference last week that council did not receive a wrong chemical.
“Thirteen steps are taken when receiving chemicals for use at Morton Jaffray. Only two steps were taken before it was discovered that the consignment was flawed. At no time was the container unpacked or off-loaded for use,” he said.
Events leading to cyanide delivery
On the May 4 2012, MT&N placed an order with Curechem Overseas (Pvt) Ltd for the supply of 500 000 kg aluminium sulphate with instructions to deliver it to Morton Jaffary waterworks.
Documents in The Standard’s possession show that on July 20 2012, Curechem Overseas advised that two trucks with consignment from overseas had arrived and were ready for delivery at Morton Jaffray waterworks.
On the day in question, the company representative advised that only one delivery note had been made with 25 tonnes of aluminium sulphate.
The other truck had been returned as it had been discovered to contain sodium cyanide.
It is understood that the driver knew that the truck contained sodium cyanide and advised accordingly.
A Curechem Overseas representative, Yevai Goto advised MT&N of a mix up by the trucking company in question.
A truck containing MT&N’s aluminium sulphate order was sent to Bak Storage instead of the truck containing sodium cyanide.
The product was clearly marked cyanide for any recipient to see.
Consequently, Pair Trade Investments transport and logistics manager Farai Muchenje was arrested over the delivery of toxic sodium cyanide to Harare’s main water works and was granted US$1 500 bail.
Government has since appointed a seven-member team to investigate the matter.