The matter in which Mt. Meru Petroleum senior officials were arrested and are appearing in Lusaka magistrate court for forging Zambia Bureau of Standards (ZABS) relating to contaminated fuel heard how one client’s vehicle was damaged after he bought fuel from Libala Mt. filling station.
Appearing before magistrate Mwale are Mr. Malavu Shuklar a Manager for Mount Meru, Vincent Simpila a Mount Meru Employee, and Andrew Basil who works for ZABS as lab analyst and forged the documentation for contaminated fuel for the filling station.
In his evidence in chief, one of the affected customers whose engine was damaged by bad fuel, Rodwell Shamputu recounted how he bought a full tank for diesel from Libala filling station for his brand new Toyota Hilux on 23rd June 2013 but the engine seized a few kilometres along Mumba Road at Nampundwe Road junction in Lusaka.
Mr. Shamputu, an accountant with the Auditor General’s office, told the court that his vehicle developed a fault and started emitting white smoke at Nampundwe Junction and was only advised by two minibus drivers that the problem was due to contaminated diesel just by mere looking at the type of smoke that was coming out of the exhaust pipe.
“I discontinued the Journey to the farm and went back to the filling station and I reached around 18:00hrs. I asked to see the Manager but was told he had already knocked off but the two male fuel attendants asked if they could offer any help. I explained the problem to them, and after checking the vehicle and verifying the receipt they asked me to go and see the manager the following day on 24thJune,2013,” he told the court.
He said he went back to the filling station around 08:00hrs and met the Manager, Mr. Malavu, who after verifying the receipt called the fuel attendant, Miriam Mbewe and asked her whether she could have mistakenly pumped petrol in the diesel tank of his vehicle.
But Mirriam denied pumping wrong fuel (petrol) in his diesel engine vehicle and she added that she even gave him a receipt for diesel. She said that she was very sure she had not made a mistake.
“It was at that stage that we decided to remove some fuel from my vehicle and took it for lab testing at ZABS, but to my surprise, I got the results that showed the fuel was indeed contaminated. But a few days later, Mt. Meru Petroleum officials also had results from the ZABS which were proved to have been fake documents after careful scrutiny of documents as they were trying to cover-up,” Mr. Shaputu told the courts
The court heard that further documentation and verified by the Energy Regulation Board and ZABS all proved that Mt. Meru Petroleum officials in connivance with Andrew Basil of ZABS had actually forged the lab test results for fear of compansation.
A further inspection by Toyota Zambia officials also proved that the fuel that was used in the vehicle was contaminated hence the severe damage to the engine.
Other customers whose vehicles have been damaged by Mt. Meru fuels include a named employee of Lafarge Cement Zambia with a Mitsubishi Pajero, a named employee of Standard Chartered Bank with his Canter Truck who bought fuel from Mt Meru Emmersdale Filling Station, and Choma Mayor Vehicle but being a government official, Mount Meru replaced all the components that were damaged and refunded the fuel money.