Melbourne’s rail operator is facing calls to rerun tests of a new cleaning agent in the wake of evidence that trials of the product carried out last year may have been deliberately sabotaged by a cleaning company and a now-sacked Metro manager.
Dominic Storey, the business manager of ASX-listed cleaning company Zoono, is asking Metro Trains to launch a fresh trial into the antimicrobial product that has been rolled out on railways in the UK and Adelaide since the outbreak of COVID-19.
The company says Zoono provides 30 days of protection from pathogens and bacteria, which means the deep clean of trains that is currently required on a nightly basis in Melbourne would only need to occur once every three weeks. This has slashed 70 per cent of cleaning costs overseas.
But tapped phone calls played to an Independent Broad-based Anti-corruption Commission hearing last week revealed then Metro manager Peter Bollas, the boss of Metro’s cleaning contractor Transclean, George Haritos, and his nephew, Steve Kyritsis, colluded to “contaminate” trials of Zoono, because they feared it would cut Transclean’s revenue.
Mr Haritos was heard instructing Mr Kyritsis to use serviettes and rags from a rubbish bin to wipe on the surfaces that would be tested under the Zoono trial.
Mr Bollas, who admitted to IBAC last year that he accepted up to $150,000 in cash bribes, told the pair where the tests were being carried out.
Mr Storey, who was intimately involved in the trial that was overseen by Mr Bollas, said he did not know about the plot at the time; he found out about it while following the IBAC inquiry.
He said it was clear that Mr Bollas was actively trying to discredit the product by introducing a series of “curve balls” into the trials.