Fuel shortages have resurfaced in Malawiâ€™s capital, Lilongwe, just few days after government through the Malawi Energy Regulatory Authority (Mera) effected new pump prices.
Mzuzu, in northern Malawi, was the first city to register the fuel problems last week, something authorities attributed to logistical problems.
But since Monday evening, many pump stations in Lilongwe were dry, annoying motorists who never anticipated the fuel shortage just days after the upward price adjustment.
A random survey in Lilongwe on Tuesday found many service stations closed while a few with the seemingly most sought after commodity had long queues of vehicles.
â€œIt beats me that just four days after effecting new prices, on the higher side, of course, diesel and petrol is becoming very scarce in the city. I have been moving up and down the city from Old Town to City Centre, but I cannot find fuel,â€ said a disappointed Charles Mitengo.
Petroleum Importers Limited (PIL) said the development is a result of a surge in demand for fuel.
â€œWe have been taken unawares by the sudden surge in demand, especially in Lilongwe from last Friday. We understand that the public was informed of a potential shortage; hence, people are stocking up. As such, volumes normally consumed in one week were consumed in two days. But we are doing our best to normalise the situation as quickly as we can,â€ said PIL board outgoing chairperson Dr. Michael Faulkner in an e-mail response.
He said PIL is working hard to normalise the situation.
â€œCurrently, we have fuel worth approximately $10 million [approximately 12 million litres] at Beira which we are lifting for both petrol and diesel. We also have 1.8 million litres of diesel being loaded at Nacala as we speak and wagons are on the way to Malawi. We are negotiating with various banks to avail more financial instruments to ensure that the supply of fuel remains smooth like it has been over the last three months. The Reserve Bank [of Malawi] has been very instrumental in ensuring that we get all the support required for financial instruments,â€ said Faulkner.
He added that PIL will continue to bring fuel at present levels as its suppliers have maintained adequate levels of stocks at the ports.
Commenting on the automatic pricing mechanism (APM) which determines localÂ fuel pricesÂ based on the global market trends,Â Â Faulkner said: â€œThe automatic pricing mechanism is aimed at ensuring that the pump price reflects the true international price and exchange rate.â€
As we went to press, Mera officials had not yet responded to our questionnaire.
Mera announced new fuel prices on Friday.