The transporters have since asked Mera not to get involved in operational matters. They argue the decision will create congestion and delays in the dispatch of tankers to travel to Dar es Salaam or Beira, thereby compounding the fuel shortage.
In a letter dated December 29 2011, Mera chief executive officer Dr. Allexon Chiwaya directed that with immediate effect, transporters of fuel should get their diesel only from International Haulage Brokers (IHB) retail outlets at Ngumbe in MalawiÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s commercial city, Blantyre, and at any other retail outlet in the capital, Lilongwe, arranged by IHB.
“In the interest of safety and security of fuel supply, the Malawi Energy Regulatory Authority hereby advises all fuel importers, oil marketing companies and IHB, that direct supply of fuel to sites owned by transporters should cease forthwith.
“Any violation to this order shall lead to prosecution,” reads ChiwayaÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s letter.
Mera spokesperson Edward Mponda on Sunday said he was in a meeting when contacted to clarify the communication.
But Road Transport Operators Association of Malawi (RTOAM) executive secretary Shadreck Matsimbe said operational matters of transporters are not MeraÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s concern; hence, the regulator should stop interfering with market forces.
Said Matsimbe: “It is a wrong action for Mera to take and it does not make sense. Why should someone who obtains the same commodity at wholesale price be buying it at retail price? Again, IHB has an interest in the business and it will put other transporters at a disadvantage.
“Mera should not get involved. It should leave transporters to resolve issues themselves. Maybe because of the shortage, Mera has decided to centralise operations. But IHB says it has no capacity because of the existing fuel shortage.”
IHB chairperson Aslam Gaffar said MeraÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s decision has come as a surprise and without their knowledge. He said it would be unfair for transporters to be getting fuel only from IHB because some transporters are into dry cargo transportation.
Said Gaffar: “We raised our concerns with Mera immediately after their communication came. We have the facility, but with the fuel shortage, we would not want to take responsibility unless we are given an assurance of enough fuel.
“We are having a meeting with Mera this week and we intend to raise these issues with them. I understand Mera has since reversed the decision, but I am yet to get the communication.Ã¢â‚¬Â