Ministry of Energy has ordered Malawi Energy Regulatory Authority (Mera) to delay issuance of fuel station licences to ensure compliance with the required regulations.
The ministry’s action follows the recent issuance of licences for the construction of fuel stations in some locations that do not adhere to the set regulations as enforced by the regulator.
Speaking on the sidelines of a tour of the K6.8 billion Mera office complex in Lilongwe on Friday, Minister of Energy Newton Kambala said time has come to protect people’s lives and property by following set standards.
He expressed concern with some recent developments which led to some fuel stations being built less than one kilometre apart and with compromised standards.
There has been a public outcry in recent years over the mushrooming of fuel stations that have been constructed closer to each other and within residential areas, thereby putting people’s lives at risk.
But Kambala said government is aware that there are some regulations that restrict construction of filling stations in locations close to residential areas.
He said: “We have seen a lot of filling stations being constructed without following regulations, for instance, close to each other. The regulations provide that filling stations should be a kilometre apart but we have seen this not being followed.
“We have heard people complaining in residential areas about this problem. Some investors are worried that Mera is delaying to issue them with licences, but the delay is necessary to ensure regulations are followed.”
On the office complex project, Kambala expressed concern that the construction has taken over a year now which is a drain on rentals that Mera pays.
Currently, figures show that Mera is paying about K13.5 million per month on rentals and the delay of the project by over a year means that over K100 million has been lost in rentals, which Kambala said could have been avoided if the project was finished in time.
Mera director of finance Zacharia Ng’oma attributed the delay to finish the office complex to the Covid-19 pandemic, which led to the scaling down of construction to comply with the set regulations of minimum number of workers.
He admitted that the delay has contributed to the cost overruns because the contractor has already submitted a proposal for additional financing which Mera is yet to review.
“When we finish this project, it will enhance efficiency of service provision. It will help us save on costs and we will be generating funds for operations because some facilities such as the auditorium will be let out,” he said.