Businesses returning to normalcy as fuel supply stabilizes in Malawi

Business is fast returning to normalcy in Lilongwe and strategic trading centres across Malawi following stability and constant supply of fuel in service stations.

The scarcity of the precious liquid negatively impacted businesses as owners could not move their goods and services from one point to the next. Drivers spent hours, and sometimes overnight, or to have their turn to refuel their vehicles.

The problem was worse in central and northern Malawi where many pump stations ran dry for weeks.

MPs inspecting National Oil Company fuel tanks in Lilongwe

Unscrupulous vendors, too, took advantage of the situation to make a killing. They bought fuel in jerry cans, which they sold at a K3,000 per litre.

The development prompted President Dr. Lazarus Chakwera to order the Reserve Bank of Malawi (RBM) to prioritize buying fuel in any foreign currency the country can secure to deal with a fuel shortage.

Before his departure for the UNGA Summit in New York, US, Chakwera assured Malawians that his government is taking steps to improve the fuel supply.

“I know that the current shortage of fuel is adversely affecting manufacturing, businesses, work, and domestic life, and I want to assure you that we are seized of this matter to ensure that there is product in the service stations in the short term, while we work on the long-term forex issues that are at the root of this problem,” he said.

Recently, Petroleum Importers Limited told reporters that it is struggling to bring in fuel because it lacks the $22 million in foreign currency required each month.

But Chakwera said the government is working with banks to acquire the needed funds.

“So, as we speak, we have therefore already secured $28 million dollars from local banks for this purpose, and we are in pursuit of another $50 million dollar facility for the same, on top of instructions the Reserve Bank has received to prioritize fuel procurement in the allocation of any forex we secure.”

The president said imports have resumed and the country is tapping its reserves.

“So, as we speak, we have over 6 million litres being brought into the country, while at the same time we have doubled the daily distribution of the product we already have in our reserves to ease the burden.”

Meanwhile, motorists have expressed happiness at stability in fuel supply.

“We no longer spend time queuing to refuel now. And this is a great relief for us because businesses will resume to work as normal now,” said Saidi Amadu – a taxi driver who operates between City Centre and Kanengo.

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