Malawi Energy Regulatory Authority (Mera) says it will consider concerns raised by some business operators and human rights defenders on the new regulations and guidelines in the retail market for liquid fuels and gas.
The energy regulatory body is in the process of enforcing the regulations which were approved by Parliament in 2004 but only became effective in September last year.
However, the implementation of the new regulations and guidelines has met resistance from some players in the sector, who obtained a court order stopping the authority from continuing with the exercise.
Further, some civil society organisations under the Human Rights Consultative Committee (HRCC) and the Forum for National Development (FND) on January 30 2018 wrote Mera chief executive officer Collins Magalasi complaining over what they described as the regulations’ “discriminative provisions”. The CSOs also asked Mera to review the guidelines together with the sector’s players.
But in its response, Mera says the standards and requirements are not cast in stone and hence; there shall be an opportune time to review them.
“You are, therefore, within your rights to raise issues of concern that you may deem fit and Mera will ensure that these are taken into consideration in our decision -making process,” reads part of the letter dated February 21 2018 and signed by Magalasi.
The authority further says at the moment the Standards and Requirements for Construction of service stations are in force and will be applied objectively without discrimination.
However, Mera says in the letter, which has also been copied to principal secretary Natural Resources, Energy and Mining, most of the issues raised were already responded to during consultations with various stakeholders such as city councils, Competition and Fair Trading Commission, Department of Environmental Affairs and Malawi Bureau of Standards (MBS).
In an interview, HRCC board chairperson Robert Mkwezalamba confirmed receiving the response from Mera, adding they would be meeting to map the way forward.
Last week, the High Court in Blantyre granted Omega Holdings Limited, through lawyer Wapona Kita, permission to apply for judicial review, thus; stopping the authority from further implementation of the new requirements.
Under the new guidelines, no filling station will be allowed to be constructed if the proposed site is within one-kilometre radius from an existing operational service station.