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Karonga community urges government to expedite oil deals

People of Karonga who initially raised concerns with oil exploration deals on Lake Malawi have called on government to expedite the process of reviewing the licences that were awarded to some international companies for the project.

Government suspended the licences in November 2014. It was estimated that the review process would take a month.

Secretary of Karonga Community Development Trust, Peter Manda and former activist Undule Mwakasungula said the oil and gas exploration projects would go a long way in transforming the lives of people of Karonga and the country as a whole.

Manda said there were misunderstandings with the deals at first as most people in the district thought that oil exploration would affect marine life in Lake Malawi.

“The community now has been sensitised that the project will not affect fish species as speculated. We [people of Karonga] welcome the oil and gas exploration with the hope that it will boost businesses in the district.

“I therefore ask government to fast track issuing of the licences,” said Manda.

Mwakasungula described oil exploration as a viable project for the nation.

He called upon the government to come out in the open and give a position on the matter.

“The challenge is that we mismanage our natural resources like what happened with Kayerekera where ten years down the line, there is nothing we can see in Karonga. It is even poorer than it was before the mining of uranium.

“But my key interest on the issue is to make sure people are well prepared and to make sure that the district itself is benefitting from the investors through the corporate social responsibility,” he said.

Mwakasungula said whichever company is engaged in the deal, it should address such concerns.

Paramount Chief Kyungu who was one of those who raised eyebrows over the project refused to comment saying he has no latest information on the matter.

Minister of Energy, Mining and Natural Resources, Bright Msaka, could not be reached on several attempts as he was reportedly outside the country.

However, Msaka told the media recently that although speed on the matter is important, government is taking time to bring in genuine deals that benefit the people of Malawi.

When government suspended the deals, it sought the position of the Attorney General Kalekeni Kaphale who raised concerns that the country’s laws were breached in the awarding of the deals.

The licences were awarded as follows: Block 1was given to Sac Oil in 2012, Blocks 2 and 3were originally given to Surestream Petroleum in 2011, which farmed out 51 percent share of each block to Hamra Oil in February 2014.

Blocks 4 and 5 went to RAK Gas in 2013 and the last Block was awarded to Pacific Oil and Gas in 2013.

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