Minister of Natural Resources, Energy and Mining Aggrey Massi says government is planning to have alternative means of transporting fuel to control price hikes.
The minister said this on Friday in Mzuzu during the official opening of Mzuzu Strategic Fuel Reserves that have a capacity of 10 million litres being managed by National Oil Company of Malawi (Nocma).
Masi said government is in the process of connecting the fuel sites in Blantyre and Lilongwe to the Nacala railway line so that fuel is transported by rail.
He said transporting fuel by rail is cheaper than by road.
“Transporting by road is costly, as a result it affects prices on the market. We are making progress in connecting the fuel reserves to the Nacala railway line. Very soon we will start to transport by rail and that will help to cut costs. Using rail way line will mean cheap fuel pump prices,” said Masi.
He said government plans to start using its fuel reserves in Mbeya, Tanzania, so that it can stock fuel there and transport it through Lake Malawi.
Masi said using the lake will also make it cheaper to transport the commodity.
On the Mzuzu fuel reserves, Masi said the Northern Region is assured of steady fuel supply, adding at the time of commissioning the tanks were almost full.
He also called on Nocma officials to continue promoting safety at the site.
Figures from Malawi Energy Regulatory Authority (Mera) show that Beira in Mozambique is the main access route to the ocean with 60 percent of fuel coming through it while Dar es Salaam in Tanzani takes 30 percent with the remaining 10 percent by Nacala railway line.
The Mzuzu fuel reserve alongiside those at Kanengo in Lilongwe and Matindi in Blantyre were built using a $26 million (K19 billion) line of credit from the India Government. The reserves have a combined capacity of 60 million litres.
Indian Ambassador to Malawi Suresh Kumar commended government for embarking on the fuel reserves project, saying it will help the country have supply during emergencies.
He said fuel is crucial to the economy of any country and any interruption affects the economy.
Nocma chief executive officer Gift Dula said following the construction of the Mzuzu fuel reserves and the others in Blantyre and Lilongwe, the country is assured of two months steady supply in case of a crisis.
He said the company will continue investing in such reserves to ensure that the country stocks more fuel.
Dula said the construction of reserves has also helped people to run their filling stations effectively and that more people are interested to venture into such businesses.