Puma Energy (Malawi) Limited has cautioned motorists in Malawi againstÃ‚Â panic buying of fuel, saying government and fuel industry players have developed a comprehensive strategy that will soon end the fuel shortages.
The comprehensive strategy to end the fuel crisis that has crippled a number of sectors, including transportation and manufacturing, involves government, the Petroleum Importers Limited, a consortium of five fuel importing companies, Malawi Energy Regulatory Authority (Mera) and National Oil Company of Malawi (NOCM).
Dr Davis Lanjesi, managing director of Puma Energy (Malawi) Limited, formerly BP, said the current shortages can be attributed to artificial demand of the commodity on the market.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Over the past few days, the country has received enough fuel, particularly diesel which could have satisfied the market, but because of panic buying, there has been an artificial demand for the product that has been created,Ã¢â‚¬Â he said last week in MalawiÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s commercial city, Blantyre, at a press briefing addressed by Puma officials in Malawi and its parent company Trafigura Beheer B.V. Limited.
Lanjesi said the directive by the Malawi Energy Regulatory Authority (Mera) to ban the selling of fuel in jerry cans is timely because black market operators, who mostly buy in jerry cans, have been causing shortage of the commodity on the formal market.
Minister of Natural Resources, Energy and Environment Goodall Gondwe could not be reached on Sunday, but he is on record to have told Business News last week that they are working day and night at finding a lasting solution to the fuel shortages.
On their part, Lanjesi said, Puma is also using its importation licence to bring in additional fuel, adding that last year; the company imported about 15 to 20 million litres of the commodity to supplement what the industry is also importing.
He observed that despite the challenges in the fuel industry, the company has no plans to retrench its staff, stressing that they believe in finding a lasting solution to the crisis.
Trafigura corporate affairs manager Mark Eadie said the fuel shortage is a shared challenge that has to be solved at all cost.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“We donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t make an investment in one year and shrink the operations shortly afterwards,Ã¢â‚¬Â said Eadie, in his comment on jobs at Puma.
The company plans to build new sites this year and upgrade some sites that have potential and the energy firm will inject $4 million (K672m) in capital projects.
Puma has since rebranded 45 sites out of 51, representing 80 percent costing the company K400 million so far, said Lanjesi.
Last year, Puma bought fuel marketing businesses in Botswana, Namibia and Zambia.
In Malawi and Tanzania, the company bought 50 percent interest in each of BP Malawi which was owned by conglomerate Press Corporation Limited (PCL) and BP Tanzania.