THE Government will be totally to blame if anything untoward happens at the Indeni Oil Refinery.
As far back as 2011 a consultant recommended far reaching measures including the closure of the plant until reactors were replaced to enhance safety and operational efficiency and yet to date nothing has been done.
The last straw by all accounts should have been the acceptance of contaminated feedstock which damaged the plant even further.
This callous disregard for public property demand severe action but we are wondering why there has been no action taken against those involved in the scandalous procurement saga.
Indeni Refinery, Zambia’s only oil refinery is now a time bomb operating on some of the equipment that has been literally declared obsolete.
There is no way that such a sensitive national asset as the refinery could operate with a dysfunctional laboratory to test every batch of feedstock being processed.
Similarly it is inconceivable that the Tazama oil pipeline could have transported millions of liters of contaminated feedstock without raising the alarm. We probably have the reason to believe that this could never have been human error but an act of sabotage.
What is even more worrying is the revelation that company officials from Guvnor were spirited out of the country without meeting the Minister of Energy Christopher Yaluma who had summoned them to explain the circumstances under which the contaminated feedstock was dispatched to Zambia.
This is incomprehensible. There is need for a proper explanation from the relevant officials including Indeni Oil Refinery who received and processed the feedstock.
There is no doubt that the entire procurement process missed the requisite assay and assessment procedures to determine the purity and therefore contractual qualities which were included in the original purchase contract.
We have no doubt that the bid documents from which the Guvnor award was offered included a specification of the requisite feedstock in relation to the level of comingling which was prescribed for the equipment at Indeni.
The fact that damage was caused to the plant and no effort is being made to explain the cause leaves a lot to be desired.
We are wondering why Guvnor officials came to Zambia and even toured Indeni Refinery but could not find time to meet the minister who had wanted to be briefed on how the country ended up with contaminated feed stock.
There must be answers to the questions and the silence from Indeni and Government officials is but causing suspicion that there could have been an attempt to sabotage the country’s most sensitive and critical installation.
Sabotaging sensitive state installations can easily undermine the governance of the country and this is no less than a criminal act.
As investigations continue into this matter, it is our hope that the truth of what could have happened would be known.