At a time Malawi is facing a foreign exchange squeeze, it has been revealed that the country is spending about $42 million on Tanzanian fuel tanker operators to ship the commodity into Malawi.
This was disclosed in Salima District on Saturday, when Concerned Fuel Transporters and the Natural Resource Committee of Parliament held a meeting..
The concerned transporters told the committee that the situation had arisen because of the National Oil Company of Malawi (Nocma)’s insistence to use foreign transporters in the current fuel importation deals at the expense of local transporters, who charge in Kwacha.
Speaking during the meeting, one of the concerned transporters, Aslam Gaffar, said, at a time Malawi was facing the problem of shortage of foreign currency, it did not make sense for the government entity to be spending hard-earned forex on Tanzanian transporters at the expense of locals.
Gaffar said local transporters have a fleet of about 790 trucks but that only a small fraction was being utilised as the authorities opt for Tanzanian transporters.
“There are 790 tankers that are owned by Malawians that are ready and available for fuel haulage from ports of Dar es Salaam in Tanzania and Beira in Mozambique. This is against the false allegations that there is no local capacity to haul fuel into the country.
“Therefore, Malawian transporters are able to transport all fuel products for the country at any given time, such that there is no need to engage foreign transporters under the pretext of lack of local capacity. Almost 625 tankers are currently parked and not being used. This is loss of business for Malawians in a number of ways,” Gaffar said.
Another concerned transporter, Christopher Kamunthu, said, with most of the Nocma fuel now being hauled by foreign transporters, there was not much work left to local transporters.
He said this has led to 500 drivers plus other workshop artisans losing their jobs.
Kamunthu said, during an engagement with Nocma, government officials and a ministerial committee, local transporters were promised that they would be allocated 86.7 percent of the volumes of fuel that comes into Malawi but claimed that nothing to that effect had happened.
“We noted that, on or about 24th November 2020 and 9th April 2022, the Parliamentary Committee on Natural Resources and Climate Change recommended that fuel allocations be adjusted by increasing Nocma’s importation quota to 90 percent from 50 percent, thereby reducing that of PIL to 10 percent.
Parliamentary Committee on Natural Resources and Climate Change Chairperson Werani Chilenga said the committee would organise a joint meeting for stakeholders in the fuel importation business to address the challenges.
Chilenga said it was the wish of the committee to see jobs and forex protected in the country.
He, however, asked the concerned transporters to withdraw the court case, after some drivers sued Nocma and his committee over similar issues.