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Tuesday, July 16, 2024
HomeNewsHarare Water Project Delays Prompt Inquiry into US$1.1 Million Payment to Nanotech

Harare Water Project Delays Prompt Inquiry into US$1.1 Million Payment to Nanotech

Nanotech Water Solutions

The Harare City Council has initiated an investigation into the performance of a contract with Nanotech Water Solutions (Pvt) Ltd. The contract involved an advance payment of US$1.1 million, but after two years, significant progress has yet to be made, with nearly US$1 million unaccounted for.

Nanotech Water Solutions (Pvt) Ltd was hired to supply, install, and commission chlorine dioxide water treatment technology at Morton Jaffray Water Treatment Works.

Interestingly, the Harare City Council does not seem to know the directors of Nanotech Water Solutions (Pvt) Ltd—Albert Jacobs, Frederik Jacobus Fourie, and Kevin Smit. Consequently, an investigation has been launched to determine how the funds were used, the acquittal process, and to identify the company’s directors.

In September 2022, the Council anticipated savings of up to US$300,000 per month by using an alternative water treatment chemical produced at Morton Jaffray Water Treatment Works.

Funded through Devolution Funds, the project included the supply, installation, and commissioning of chlorine dioxide water treatment technology by Nanotech Water Solutions.

During a Special Council meeting, then Acting Finance Director Godfrey Kusangaya emphasized the financial benefits of the Nanotech deal, noting potential monthly savings of over US$300,000.

“Once we start producing chemicals locally, we will also mitigate current chemical shortages,” he stated.

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Nanotech’s Operations Manager expressed the company’s readiness to begin work once the initial payment was received.

“We are not here to be suppliers but to partner with you in the long term. As soon as we have feedback and know the money is in our bank, we can action that. We have prepared everything,” the Manager said in September 2022.

“We will upgrade the plant with disinfection and manufacturing solutions; long term, we will start addressing capacity at Morton Jaffray to increase it and look at reticulation to ensure that we are able to address the questions we have,” he added.

Despite the initial optimism, councillors are now concerned about the lack of progress. Minutes from the Environmental Management Committee meeting on May 2, 2024, indicate that only US$189,000 of the US$1.1 million advance has been acquitted.

The Acting Finance Director reported that Nanotech had not provided the full acquittal required by the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe.

Furthermore, “the Chairperson reported that she had visited Morton Jaffray Water Treatment Works and had observed the works that had been set up by Nanotech Water Solutions (Pvt) Ltd but wondered why there was no production,” according to council minutes seen by Kukurigo.

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According to company documents reviewed by Kukurigo, the directors of Nanotech Water Solutions (Pvt) Ltd are Albert Jacobs, Frederik Jacobus Fourie, and Kevin Smit.

Councillors are now demanding a thorough investigation by the Audit Committee into the use of funds, the incomplete acquittals, and the identification of the company’s directors.

They also stressed the need to understand the contract awarding process and whether legal procedures were followed. The Environmental Management Committee minutes from May 9, 2024, highlight ongoing concerns about delays in reporting and the necessity for critical decisions regarding Harare’s water supply solutions.

The Committee noted the importance of not engaging other companies while the contract with Nanotech remains active unless it is terminated.

Meanwhile, the Council has requested a detailed report from the Director of Works on Tamira Investments, another company contracted by the Council and paid in advance for constructing a modern laboratory, which is also under scrutiny.

This scandal unfolds as Harare’s water crisis persists, impacting residents’ rights to water, sanitation, and health.

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