Fuel shortage resurfaces in Malawi’s major cities

Operations of different sectors of Malawi’s economy have been paralyzed following the resurfacing of fuel shortage particularly in the country’s major cities of Blantyre, Lilongwe and Mzuzu .

Since 2009, the country has been gripped by an acute fuel shortage, a development that has forced some heavy industries to cut their production while most motorists are opting to use public transport to and from work.

For the past few weeks, the situation slightly improved for petrol as most filling stations had stock but the story was different with diesel which significantly drives the economy. Diesel powered vehicles have been seen snaking from filling stations as most machines that use the commodity remained switched off.

But Nyasa Times spot checks in the administrative capital Lilongwe and commercial capital of Blantyre revealed that even petrol is now scarce.

Fuel crisis here again

In Lilongwe, almost all filling stations are dry and it is not known when fuel will be replenished despite the Malawi Energy Regulatory Authority (MERA) affirmation that the problem is temporally.

“The situation will be normalized soon because government, as you have been hearing, has put in place several interventions,” said MERA Public Relations Officer Edward Mponda.

Reports around Lilongwe indicate that only five stations had fuel which finished on Tuesday but most filling stations have had no fuel for the last three days and attendants do not even know when they will stock up.

While filling stations have no stock, black market traders are enriching themselves as they have enough stock to sell at exorbitant price. These unscrupulous traders are selling a five-litre gallon at a minimum price of K3200 from the recommended K1281 and people have no choice to buy.

In Mzuzu, reports indicate that the same quantity is being traded at K3750.

In Blantyre, the situation is the same and most fillings stations Nyasa Times visited, fuel attendants were just seen chatting as they had nothing to do.

“We don’t know when it will come because we are not being told anything,” a lady petrol attendant at the newly refurbished Engen Filling Station at Ginnery Corner told Nyasa Times Wednesday morning.

Scarcity of fuel has also affected an ordinary citizen hard because minibus operators are just charging any fare they can think of as most of them are not on the road.

Apart from transportation, the problem has also hit hard the healthy sector because vehicles cannot move and generators cannot be switched on.

Fuel scarcity was one reason the civil society leaders organised the July 20 demonstrations to force President Bingu Mutharika to correct the situation. During the demos about 19 people died after being shot by police.

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