Malawians could be in for a rough festive season if government does not address grievances of local fuel transporters who have since threatened to ground all their tankers from December 16.
In a notice signed by about 60 transporters dated December 7 2020 addressed to ministries of Transport and Public Works and Energy, chief executive officers and district commissioners (DCs) of Blantyre, Mwanza, Karonga and Lilongwe, the hauliers stress that the strike will only end after their grievances are addressed. will only end after their grievances
The bone of contention, according to an earlier petition where the truck drivers had raised their grievances, is the distribution of fuel contracts in the country between State-owned National Oil Company of Malawi (Nocma) and Petroleum Importers Limited (PIL), a consortium of private oil marketing companies.
The transporters protest a November 2020 resolution by the Parliamentary Committee on Natural Resources and Climate Change to give Nocma a lion’s share of 90 percent and PIL a paltry 10 percent instead of the current 50-50 deal. In the petition, the local hauliers allege that while PIL prefers local transporters in fuel haulage contracts, Nocma, on the other hand, gives business to foreign transporters.
Reads the petition in part: “All payments by Nocma to transporters should be made in local currency as provided for under the Foreign Exchange Control Act. Both local and foreign transporters must abide by this law.
“This will also help reduce the huge financial burden of exporting the scarce foreign exchange reserves. It will also help all transporters to be on time.”
In an interview last evening, one of the signatories, Abdul Latif said there was need for government to address the issues when they were presented to them in the first place.
He said: “It somehow seems that there has been laxity because these issues were raised since way back. However, this time will have no option, but proceed with the strike.”
Minister of Energy Newton Kambala could not be reached on his mobile phone last evening while Ministry of Transport spokesperson Andrew Nthiko asked for more time to check the status on the issue.
Nocma spoke spe r son Telephorus Chigwenembe also asked for more time before commenting while PIL managing director Martin Msimuko did not pick our calls on numerous occasions.
The looming str ike by transporters comes after truck drivers in October grounded all trucks and closed the country’s border posts to force government to address some of their concerns, including their general welfare.
The strike, which lasted a week, saw some motorists in Blantyre having challenges in accessing fuel in some service stations as the impact started biting.
That time, Ministry of Transport and Public Works pleaded with the drivers to resume work with an assurance that their grievances would be addressed