Residents in Karonga plans to hold a demonstration against Malawian government in demanding the truth on the oil Exploration in the country responding to newspaper report which indicated that government is ignorant on the exploitation of Hamra oil Holdings activities in the northern religion.
According to the Weekend Nation newspaper, the Principal Secretary in the Ministry of Natural Resources, Energy and Mining Ben Botolo said government is waiting for results from Surestream assessment on oil exploration as such it is not aware of Hamra Oil Holdings Company.
“What my office knows is that we are still waiting for results from an assessment which government commissioned Surestream to do, as such deposits on the lake as there is currently lack of legal frame work mandating the same in whose absence no firm can start exploration,” said Botolo.
This worries residents in Karonga through Karonga Business Community who have written a letter of protest to the District Commissioner as the Hamra oil company plans have already started flying in the district as one of its exploration exercise.
Wavisanga Silungwe said they are “suspicious” with the way Hamra Oil Holdings Company have started its activities on Lake Malawi territorial waters in Karonga.
Adding that “the Hamra Oil Holdings has told the community that it has already submitted Environmental Assessment reports to the government on how the exploration will be done but the principal secretary says they know Surestream, which is which?”
“Memories are still fresh as to how the former DPP Government goofed on Kayelekera, now bringing this again would really reflect very badly to the new administration and if we are to believe what Botolo said we are going to force Hamra Oil company to stop flying their planes in our space until all assessment as claimed by Botolo is finally commissioned by Surestream.”
According to the letter, Hamra Oil Holdings Company during their presentation to people in Karonga end of September indicated that government has given them blocks on Lake Malawi through ministry of Foreign Affairs.
“We are very worried that this new administration is prone to make the same grave historical mistakes on mining deals because Peter Chilumanga the deputy Director of Mines came with an Oil company from United Arab Emirates making presentation in front of all chiefs, councilors and different organizations narrating that the company has secured 51 percent of the shares on Lake Malawi seconded by Surestream and the same government is saying is not aware, are they taken us for grated or what,” said Silungwe.
The letter also indicated that government assured people that the new oil company activities will not bring dispute between Tanzania and Malawi.
“They also indicated that the Lake has been demarcated with the buffer zone between Tanzania and Malawi and that the company will only concentrate on the country side while the discussions on lake dispute between the two countries continue,” he said.
Commenting on the matter official of Centre for Human Rights and Rehabilitation (CHRR) Grain Mbewe concurred with Karonga Business Community saying “government should indeed tell the people the truth because this conduct abuses people’s rights as they are not involved and aware of what is happening in their own area.”
Adding that “as a human rights organization we are in support of that demonstration because it is not only affecting people in Karonga but the whole country we are losing trust in our own government.”
Chairperson of Natural Resource Justice Rink in Malawi Cossam Munthali said government is taken Malawians for granted.
“It is indeed a worrisome development that is happening in our country because during Hamra Presentation in Karonga, Government official from the mines came here and he assured us that everything is done according to government part and now the same government is denying, what are we going to believe?”
Meanwhile, Hamra Oil Holdings Company spokesperson denied commenting on whether government is or not aware of their company saying “you have to ask government to come clearly if they know us or not, to us we did the right thing and followed right procedure.”Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :