Malawi government has ordered one of the leading fuel supplying companies in the country, Petroda, to lease out its filling stations to local business people just like other players in the industry.
Malawi’s Minister of Energy Cassim Chilumpha said in an exclusive interview recently that within three months, authorities at Petroda must start working out how to lease out the filling stations to other business people.
Said Chilumpha: “For a very long time, government has advocated that no company should be importing, wholesaling and then retailing fuel supplies. All other players in the industry complied with this policy and it is only Petroda who have not done so.
“We want to make the playing field level and, after the budget, we will again remind Petroda that they should lease out their filling stations to local business people.”
According to Chilumpha, this is the reason Petroda was closed last year because government insisted that no player should dominate the industry by doing everything on its own, but somehow, the issue remains unresolved.
But in a telephone interview one of the managers at Petroda, Zahir Bhana, said what the minister said was not true because Petroda filling stations were closed for 12 days last year due to the same reason and they could not have been opened if they were still flouting procedures.
“Talk to officials at Mera [Malawi Energy Regulatory Authority] and they will tell you the truth. We could not have been operating if we were flouting some procedures. All our filling stations except two have been let out. In fact, business people are refusing to run our Ntcheu filling station because there is no business; so, we believe we are operating legally,” said Bhana.
Mera spokesperson Edward Mponda refused to comment on the issue, saying he was on leave but referred the media to director of technical regulation Welton Saiwa who asked for a questionnaire.
However a questionnaire sent two weeks ago had not yet been replied to as we went to bed.
Malawi uses about five million litres of fuel per week, but since fuel shortage hit the country over a year ago, Petroda has been one of the
major source of the commodity.