Malawi Energy Regulatory Authority (Mera) has hinted on the possibility of fuel prices easing once the country starts using facilities at Malawi Cargo Centre Limited (MCCL) at Mbeya in Tanzania.
In an interview on Wednesday, Mera chief executive officer Collins Magalasi said hauling fuel from Dar es Salaam Port to Mbeya, a distance of 1 000 kilometres, will be done on rail, which is much cheaper compared to road transport.
“From Mbeya to Malawi, the fuel will be transported using local trucks as well as vessels on Lake Malawi, but we are still working on the details.
“Prices of fuel may go down depending on the savings that we will make on transport and storage. So far, the projections are very positive,” he said.
Currently, a litre of petrol costs K824.70, diesel K815.80 and paraffin K648.70 and the prices have remained stable the whole of last year.
Apart from Dar es Salaam, Malawi gets its fuel through the ports of Beira and Nacala in Mozambique. From there, the commodity is transported by road to Malawi.
A delegation from Malawi led by Magalasi is in Tanzania to inspect the facilities ahead of the commissioning this year.
Fuel storage facilities at MCCL are owned by the Malawi government but they have been underutilised for years, according to Mera.
When commissioned, it means all fuels and other cargo from Dar es Salaam will go through the MCCL facilities.
Figures from Mera show that 30 percent of the country’s fuel is imported through Dar es Salaam.
The MCCCL facilities at Mbeya will ensure security of fuel supply in the country as the commodity will be kept there for easy transportation to Malawi.
But a former senior civil servant who worked in the Ministry of Transport and Public Works said in an interview the Tanzania Zambia Railway Authority (Tazara) corridor, where the Mbeya Port is has over the past years not been utilised to full capacity.
Mbeya can help Malawi save a lot of money because it is shorter compared to Dar es Salaam,” said the official who did not want to be named.
Tazara is a bi-national railway linking the southern African region transport network to Eastern Africa’s seaport of Dar es Salaam, offering both freight and passenger transportation services between and within Tanzania and Zambia.
Local Fuel Transporters Association chairperson George Yiannakis commended government for the decision to start using MCCL facilities, saying it will help local transporters save a lot of money.
“This is brilliant news and since Mera has indicated that they will be using a lot of local trucks, it also means that we will be getting enough business. Dar es Salaam is indeed far and it is costly to transport fuel from there to Malawi,” he said.
Last year, the Parliamentary Committee on Climate Change toured MCCL facilities where they bemoaned their underutilisation. n