New information about the disposal of the Probo Koala waste is now available and made public by me.
I post brief extracts only of this information but the full information is online here.
In mid-September 2006, an Abidjan newspaper interviewed three of the truck drivers who carried and dumped the waste and some who cleaned two of the trucks used. It is these interviews I now publish.
How Did I get This Information?
Very simply and very easily! I asked.
In response to allegations made by Greenpeace and de Volkskrant Macfarlanes, solicitors, issued a very long statement on their own and Trafigura’s behalf. Within this statement was a reference to the interview.
I contacted Macfarlanes earlier today and very kindly – thank you - they forwarded a pdf file of the original article plus an English translation and it is this I have published online
Before you read the article or read the few extracts below you need to remember that an Ivorian Franc is worth less than 1/7th of a penny. The drivers say that they were paid 125000 francs per trip and the truck washers 5000 francs for each truck wash. This is equivalent to about £160 and £6 respectively.
The driver described who was at, near or on the Probo Koala.
“ … what I can say is that there were a lot of vehicles, from the police, from the gendarmerie and from the Hygiene Services. When the ship docked everyone went on board and stayed on board between an hour and an hour and a half before coming off. That’s how they convinced us that it really was water that smelled a little bad but it wasn’t serious.”
This driver tells of his arrival at the Akouedo dump.
“Reporter: But at Akouedo didn’t anyone question you? Who authorized you to unload the product there?
Driver: When we left for Akouedo we had all the permits possible from the Custom, the Port and the District. So they let us in and they showed us where we had to unload the product.”
The driver continued in response to another question
At Akouedo the man who got out of the car [which had accompanied the truck] was one of Mr Salomon's colleagues from Societe Tommy and it was he who presented the documents at the entrance to the dump.
Asked about their responsibility for dumping the waste the driver said,
“… We were tricked and are unhappy at being associated with this scandal. We only received 125000 francs per trip per load, that’s all. You load, you go and unload, you get paid and then you leave. That’s all we know.”
Asked about their health and about whether a driver had died the reply was,
“No, we deny this story because we all know each other. And I can assure you that everyone, drivers and co-drivers feel well.”
Reporter: What is your connection with the managers of Tommy?
Driver 1: To be truthful, we knew Mr Salomon from our work. When ships come to the Ivory Coast and they have to be resupplied with fuel, they place orders with Mr Salomon who is the intermediary with the oil companies/ So when we arrive, he’s the one who helps us load the fuel. That’s how we know him. That’s how we were informed of the creation of his company. But since he didn’t have his own trucks, he wanted us to help him remove the waste water from the Probo Koala.
Driver 2: Like my friend, I wanted to say that we thought we could make ourselves a bit of money but we didn’t know the ins and out of the affair.”
The drivers were then asked about corruption in the gendarmerie.
Reporter: You said just now that the Commanding Officer of the Gendarmerie came and detained the drivers then released them again after being given money. Who gave him this money? The drivers or who?
Driver: But how much would the drivers have had to give to the Commanding Officer of the Gendarmerie? It was the managers of Tommy who discussed it with him. They led him to believe that it wasn't serious. But on Sunday 20 August he came back when he found out the extent of the disaster.”
There is little of direct relevance to the scandal of the actual dumping but there is interesting information therein. I may write a brief post soon about this portion of the interview.
Please read their story [page 8 of the 10 page file] because it describes how ordinary Ivoirians were caught up unwittingly in the scandal of the illegal dumping.
These interviews may well support the case that Macfarlanes and Trafigura are making. I don’t care if that is so. My line has always been to get as much information into the public domain as possible.
The more is available the more we know what we don’t know and we can go in search of that and the more likely we are to come to the correct conclusion.
My six most recent posts - all 18 and 19 May with the most recent first are: