People in Karonga and Rumphi have asked Malawi Government to put in place mining legislation, especially in the petroleum industry to ensure that Malawi benefit.
Bishop Martin Mtumbuka of the Karonga Catholic Diocese said while Malawians are poor and need resources that are buried in the country’s land to uplift their livelihood, it was important that the laws of the country be followed.
Mtumbuka was speaking at a public hearing which Ministry of Mines organised in Karonga to allow people to express their views on the Environmental and Social Impact Assessment Report (EIA), which a company that was awarded to explore oil in Malawi, Surestream Petroleum Limited presented.
“We cannot keep on pretending that things are well in Malawi. Our people are poor and suffering. We need these resources to ensure that we uplift lives of Malawians, but we need to do this in the confines of the law,” he said.
Surestream general manager Keith Robinson allayed fears expressed by the public of possible disaster in the lake, saying the country has not reached that stage yet.
He also said the exploration will take place on the Malawi side and that the company does not want to aggravate the tension between Malawi and Tanzania.
“We still have to present two more EIAs before reaching the drilling stage. It may take years,” he said.
A ministry of Mines official, Peter Chilumanga, said Malawi was putting legislation in place to guide the industry.
“Commonwealth secretariat and University of Dundee in Scotland are helping the country to come up with Petroleum Exploration and Production policy. It will be ready by end of March,” he said.