Malawi Energy Regulatory Authority (Mera) will start taking to task filling station developers with uncoordinated and unregulated structures following new provisions in the construction licence.
Speaking on the sidelines of a media sensitisation workshop on development in the energy sector in Salima on Monday, Mera director of fuels and gas, Alinafe Mkavea, said with the new Liquid Fuels and Gas (Production and Supply) Act states that no person will not be allowed to carry out construction or modification of installations and facilities of the chain of supply without having obtained a licence.
While acknowledging the mushrooming of filling stations close to each other and in undesignated states, Mkavea said the regulator will demand such businesses to upgrade their station and apply safety standards where necessary.
She said: “We have seen the mushrooming of uncoordinated construction of service stations posing huge safety risks and reduced return on investments which are accumulated in one area, some in residential areas while others are near public places such as schools, markets, churches and hospitals. We have also had issues to do with non-compliance to standards of facilities such as tanks, drainage systems and electrical installations.
“There was no guide to tell how far we should be from the other because we used to issue only an operator’s licence. We used to come in after they have constructed the filling stations to check for the technical standards.”
Under the new guidelines, Mera will not be able to consider construction of any retail outlet if the proposed site is located within a one kilometer radius from an existing operational service station unless if there are exemptions.
In a separate interview, one of the filling stations operators said the un orderly mushrooming of filling stations close to each other reduced even further the volumes of retailers.
“This is coming at a time when operational costs for operating a filling station have increased,” he said. n