12m litres of petrol and 13m litres of diesel expected in by this week

Kachaje, Kazako and Matola at the press briefing 

* MERA assures fuel queues to be reduce by mid-November

* 40 fully loaded tankers on their way from Tanzania

* Other 30 tanks also about to load product

By Emmanuel Yokoniya, MANA

Malawi Energy Regulatory Authority (MERA) told the media last week that the country is expecting to receive 12 million litres of petrol and 13 million litres of diesel by this week — which aims at filling its 60 million litre fuel capacity reserves.

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Accompanied by Minister of information, Gospel Kazako and Minister of Energy, Ibrahim Matola at a press briefing in Lilongwe, MERA’s chief executive officer Henry Kachanje assured the public that fuel availability will improve by mid this month.

“Fuel availability will improve by next week as 40 fully loaded tankers from Tanzania are coming to the country and 30 other tankers are also about to load the product.”

He further said government has already secured a US$60 million revolving financing facility specifically aimed at improving fuel importation in the country.

He said MERA sympathizes with the general public on fuel shortage, which has become a big challenge to the country, saying that is why the government is doing all it can to improve the situation for good.

“We, therefore, have asked the Reserve Bank of Malawi to rescue the situation by assisting fuel importers with forex so that they should be able to import more fuel product,” he said.

While attributing that fuel shortage is due shortage of forex in the country, he was also quick to blame tendency of some citizens for unpatriotic behavior of buying fuel in bulk and resell it at a high price.

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In his remarks, Minister of Information, Kazako asked for Malawians’ resilience as the government is tirelessly working to improve the situation.

“It hurts to see citizens queuing for long for fuel and for that reason the government cannot just sit and watch things going worse like that as this Tonse-led administration is a responsible government,” Kazako said.

Since January this year the country has been experiencing fuel shortages, which mainly is due to shortage of forex but was exacerbated by non-motorists, who were queuing up to fill into jerry cans to resell on black market.

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When MERA outlawed the practice, the vendors found another way through motorcycle taxis (Kabaza) who were cutting the queues, fill up full tank, drive off to siphon the fuel into jerrycans and come up to refuel.

These kabaza operators congest the pumps, leaving motorists waiting for far too long and thereby making the queues much longer than they could have been if the kabaza taxis were to queue behind motor vehicles on first come first serve.

When filling stations management started registering a Kabaza operator, who filled up full tank and were being rejected after their return some minutes later, others came in with an innovation using their vehicles by filling up full tank to resell.

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Such vehicles would stop at strategic places, especially near pubs and market their products and as of last week, they were selling petrol at K4,000 a litre.

Last month, MERA closed Murray Road Total Filling Station in Lilongwe from doing business on allegations that its pump attendants were swindling customers and also demanding tips for motorists to be sold fuel.

In punishing the filling Station, Kachaje had said such conduct was undermining efforts to equitable distribution and access of fuel to the public and is a serious violation of the Liquid Fuels and Gas Act.—Additional reporting by Duncan Mlanjira, Maravi Express

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