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Fuel transporters concerned over foreign operators’ dominance

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BY CHIMWEMWE MANGAZI

Local fuel transporters have presented a petition to the Parliamentary Committee of Natural Resources and Climate Change, expressing interest over foreign operators’ dominance in hauling fuel into the country.

It is claimed that the country is losing over $5.8 million of foreign exchange to fuel importation monthly following preference that is given to transporters from Tanzania and Mozambique.

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Presenting the petition, a group of local transporters, calling itself Concerned Fuel Transporters, claimed that, of late-fuel importing companies in the country, the National Oil Company of Malawi (Nocma) Limited and the Petroleum Importers Limited (PIL) have been requesting their suppliers in Tanzania and Mozambique to source their own transporters.

According to the petition, the development led to the suppliers giving preference to foreign transporters.

The petition further indicated that fuel products that land through the Port of Dar es salaam, 10 percent of it is hauled by Malawian transporters while foreign transporters haul the rest.

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“Foreign tankers dominate this trade, and are given preferential treatment when it comes to loading and offloading of the products as well as transportation.

“The foreign haulers do not register with Mera or IHB, who is the broker. They do operate without Mera’s licence which is a violation of Energy Laws and all their payments are done in United States dollars, a scarce resource for our country which must be preserved and not wasted as is the current case,” reads in part the petition.

Chairperson of the group, Gordon Luhanga, expressed dismay over Mera’s conduct, as it (Mera) is expected to ensure that fuel importers do not flout regulations by contracting foreign transporters who are not licensed.

“We want to bring to your attention that Simso and Mount Meru companies have been issued with four business licences by Mera. The licences include fuel importation, transportation, wholesale and retail fuel trade which is monopolistic and taking us out of business,” Luhanga said.

Chairperson of the Parliamentary Committee of Natural Resources and Climate Change, Victor Musowa, said the matter is serious; hence, his committee will summon all stakeholders to resolve the problem.

“I think their argument is valid. It is painful to see local transporters losing business to foreigners, when the locals have huge unsettled loans with banks used to procure the trucks. We will look at their case seriously,” Musowa said.

However, Mera Chief Executive Officer, Collins Magalasi, quashed the claims, pointing out that the local transporters in most cases do not meet standards and capacity to haul the required fuel into the country.

“There is no such preference, we only allow those that are licensed and there is actually preference towards local haulers and I must state that, so far, the local transporters have failed to meet the target that we have, in other words most of the time, we have got situations where there are few trucks to carry the fuel, so it is not true,” Magalasi said.

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