Chiefs against oil drilling on Lake Malawi

Some Traditional Leaders in Nkhata Bay district have asked government to immediately suspend the Oil drilling venture that is set to take place in Lake Malawi saying it could be disastrous to the fishing industry which provides direct jobs to thousands of people.

“Could it be possible for the Oil company to employ all these people once their only source of revenue is closed to them? I don’t think so” Village Headman Dundubila queried.

The Malawi government has given Surestream the go ahead to drill Oil from Lake Malawi’s blocks 2 and 3 which run from Karonga to Nkhotakota.

UK based Surestream Petroleum Company, which was established in 2004, is currently doing a Environmental and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA) on Lake Malawi.

Chiefs say no to oil exploration

While Village Headman Chilembo said Fish is the cheapest and most available relish for Malawians hence going ahead with the Oil project might deny most Malawians access to this common source of proteins.

“What I see here is that government will be the major beneficiary in terms of taxes. But for us the Lake is our gold mine,” Chilembo said.

The Chiefs from Nkhata Bay North constituency said the lake has supported communities since time immemorial and pessimistic if the proposed Oil drilling will be of direct benefit to the same communities who have relied on the Lake for fish and water for generations.

Last month the Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace (CCJP) Mzuzu Diocese also asked government to tread carefully in the new Oil drilling venture saying they could be catastrophic consequences if certain studies are either rushed or ignored.

The Chiefs said this during a stakeholders meeting held at Bula Primary School where a group called Concerned Citizens had donated 40 iron sheets, cement and roofing nails  valued MK80,000 to Bula CCAP Church.

But the groups Chairperson Watson Katawa Nyasulu has given government up to July 30, 2012 to respond to concerns the group raised in its petition saying if it fails to respond within this period, the group will obtain a court injunction.

“Nobody is talking about the benefits of Oil drilling or what impact that will have on the fish industry. This lake of information is very suspicious,” Nyasulu said.

Nyasulu claimed all the 56 Chiefs in the district have given him the go ahead to obtain an injunction if government dilly dallies.

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