BY SHARON BUWERIMWE
DEFENCE and War Veterans Affairs secretary Mark Grey Marongwe yesterday said informal traders and small to medium enterprises (SMEs) must be included in programmes to deal with the safe handling of chemicals to prevent accidents.
Speaking during the Advanced Safety and Security workshop for African member states hosted by the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), Marongwe said SMEs lacked skills in chemical safety.
“As Zimbabwe, we are pleased that the workshop coincides with the historic 25th anniversary of the coming into force of the Chemical Weapons Convention,” Marongwe said.
“Our country is an emerging economy and is witnessing an increase in the use of chemicals, particularly by the informal sector and SMEs. This brings to the fore new challenges in safeguarding chemical safety and security as many of these emerging enterprises do not have the capacity to put in place adequate chemical safety and security measures.
“There is a need; therefore, to ensure that small to medium enterprises are not left behind when dealing with chemical safety and security issues.”
Marongwe also raised concern over syndicates smuggling dangerous chemicals into the country.
“Many African countries are still grappling with border security concerns as smuggling of chemicals still poses a major challenge. As such, chemical safety and security is compromised by the ease with which chemicals can be smuggled across the borders on our continent. This is particularly worrying if this involves organised transnational criminal syndicates.”