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Government ‘abandons’ multibillion facility

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Details have emerged that the government of Malawi is failing to renovate and utilise its fuel cargo centres in Mbeya and Dar es Salaam in Tanzania, which have been lying idle for over four years.

Speaking when the Parliamentary Committee on Natural Resources and Climate Change visited the Malawi Cargo Centre Limited (MCCL) in Dar es Salaam on Thursday, MCCL Managing Director Pascal Chikaonda said the fuel cargo centre has been dormant for over four years and that Malawi is losing a lot of money due to its being non-operational.

The investment in Tanzania, which is over 25 years old, was operational from inception up to 2013 and, according to MCCL, the facility is no longer in use because of infrastructural deficit.

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Chikaonda said it was cumbersome for government to embark on the renovation, hence interim measures, including changing the arrangement to a concession, where the assets belonging to the Malawi Government will now be addressed and managed by shareholders.

“On the history of Malawi Cargo Centre, we were created by government in order to manage these assets. But now we are changing the way they are managed to a concession where the role of investment will be done by the shareholders. The shareholders will invest $4 million within two years.

“This is a heavily capitalistic sector and we are hoping that once this is done, the ability to attract cargo from Malawi and the region will also increase. Government has a lot of priorities and that’s why it decided to change the lease into a concession. It was a question of making sure that the corridor is sustained,” he said.

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When the project was commissioned, a treaty was signed with a requirement that all cargo from the port to Malawi should be passing through MCCL. However, it has emerged that fuel is not passing through the centres, a development which has worried the Parliamentary Committee on Natural Resources and Climate Change.

Speaking after touring the centres on Thursday, the committee’s chairperson, Welani Chilenga, wondered why fuel is not passing through the centres when there is a treaty enforcing the same.

Meanwhile, Malawian drivers are spending a month at MCCL premises in Tanzania trying to load and offload their fuel while priority is given to Tanzanian tankersand trucks because Malawi is not using the facilities.

Chilenga, whose committee provides an oversight for the Ministry of Natural Resources, Energy and Mining, said it is sad that Malawians get stuck in Tanzania when there are facilities that, if used, can eradicate the challenges.

“We are here to put the record straight. A treaty was signed with an agreement that all cargo from the port to Malawi should be passing through MCCL. Now we have found out that fuel is not passing through MCCL and as Parliament, we are going to blow the whistle.There is something wrong here,” he said.

Apparently, National Oil Company of Malawi advertised a tender to supply fuel through MCCL.

It has since emerged that Petroleum Importers Limited is one of the companies that is importing fuel directly to Malawi and, according to Chilenga, it is surprising that a company has won the tender but it is not importing fuel through MCCL.

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