Local transporters have increased fears expressed on social media, about impending fuel scarcity due to insecurity in Mozambique, by admitting that they are afraid to send their trucks to Mozambique or allow their vehicles at Beira to return home because of insecurity in that country.
But a press statement from Malawi Energy Regulatory Authority (Mera), also copied on social media, has played down the fears, insisting that the country continues to have sufficient internal fuel stocks, saying Nacala and Dar es Salaam routes are also running.
“Beira trucks are on the way and there will be no shortage of fuel,” reads.
The fear of the local transporters is as a result of attacks on trucks by a gang of militia, including incidences where five Malawi trucks—three of them tankers loaded with fuel destined for Malawi from Indian Ocean port of Beira—were burnt to ashes recently.
Road Transport Operators Association of Malawi (RTOAM) executive director Chrissie Flao confirmed that the association’s members were hesitant to release their trucks into Mozambique.
Flao said: “Government has not come out clearly on real position in Mozambique. Some tankers are stuck in Beira while some of our members here in Malawi are hesitant to release them into Mozambique. We need guidance from government.”
Flao, however, said although Mozambique military is providing escort for every 200 trucks, security was not guaranteed as the militia could shoot at the convoy at random.
She also said the arrangement of 200 trucks per military escort is also causing delays because drivers will have to wait for others to load, and it turns out to be a long wait for 200 trucks to load.
National Oil Company of Malawi (Nocma) communications officer Telephorus Chigwenembe in an interview yesterday equally feared that the infighting in Mozambique may affect fuel supply levels in Malawi.
Chigwenembe said: “The thing is that the Beira-Malawi route brings us 65 percent of national fuel needs whereas Nacala and Dar es Salaam routes, combined, bring 35 percent.
He disclosed that Nocma is part of a team involved in the assessment of alternative routes, adding that their director of operations just returned from Zimbabwe on that exercise.
Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation spokesperson Rejoice Shumba is on record as saying government would issue a report on its course of action once officials from the two countries discuss the issue.
Petroleum Importers Limited (PIL) general manager Enwell Kadango this month told our sister newspaper, The Nation, that Malawi lost close to K70 million on the three burnt tankers alone.n