Fierce divisions have emerged among Fuel Tankers Operators Association (FTOA) with some demanding that their chairman Golden Luhanga be impeached “immediately,” accusing him of being “extremely compromised” and also bringing confusion in the association.
Luhanga has also been accused of abusing his powers, and also belittling his own members’ views.
Nyasa Times understands that the bone of contention is the injunction which FTOA obtained on April 26,2021 through the Lilongwe High Court, restraining the National Oil Company of Malawi (NOCMA) from using the Delivery Duty Unpaid (DDU) method of importing fuel into the country.
The association, through their lawyer Shepher Mumba, filed summons against DDU method, describing the method as illegal and a contravention of the regulations.
Instead, the operators opted for ex-tank procurement, where local importers take charge of ownership of the product destined for Malawi and are responsible for in-transit risks like theft, accidents and contamination up to the internal receiving depots of oil marketing companies.
However, four months down the line after successfully obtaining the injunction, it has emerged that the Treasure of the grouping James Mwenera, is accusing his boss Luhanga of obtaining an injunction without the blessings of other members.
According to a letter dated July 26, 2021, which Nyasa Times has seen, titled “IHB deductions on transporters proceeds in respect of NOCMA court injunction costs, Mwenera is accusing his boss Luhanga of conniving with the International Haulage Broker (IHB) to deduct the NOCMA injunction costs from transporters proceeds.
IHB is a local firm which coordinates fuel transportation in the country.
Reads the letter in part: “It is also stunning that IHB is making unauthorized deductions on transporters when the same IHB refused to be collecting membership fees from FTOA members on behalf of FTOA.
Mwenera adds: “Fellow members, the fact of the matter is that the chairman in his individual capacity obtained a court injunction to restrain NOCMA from use of DDU system of procuring fuel. The court injunction in question was obtained in the name of FTOA.
“Not at any given time did FTOA executive nor members discuss on the issue of obtaining a court injunction on NOCMA.”
He also questions the rationality of obtaining an injunction against NOCMA.
“Fellow members, let us do things as professional business people, and look at NOCMA court injunction objectively. Does it make business sense that we take NOCMA to court and at the same time we want to derive business from NOCMA? Would NOCMA be comfortable dealing with firms which take them to court? Obviously not.”
At this point, Mwenera reminds his colleagues that they should note that FTOA recently submitted to NOCMA a transportation bid of which the results are not yet out.
He says FTOA stands a greater chance of being awarded the contract by NOCAM “but the stumbling block is the injunction in place and the compromised chairman.”
He adds: “The chairman has strained our cordial relationship with NOCMA which is state owned and as such he is unfit to carry the flag of FTOA. From his actions one can easily tell that he has a deficiency in negotiating skills and is unprofessional in handling business contracts matters. Courts are not better platforms for business dealings.”
He says the chairman “and his zealots” whom are also part of the executive do not do things in the best interest of the association, stressing that instead, they are advancing their personal agendas and that of IHB.
In the letter, Mwenera also asks his fellow members to note that it was parliament, an arm of government, which made a resolution that NOCMA should adopt DDU system of procuring fuel, adding that NOCMA will, therefore, be bound to adopt the same stem as it is also a government entity.
“Fellow members, I am of the view that we withdraw the court injunction on the basis that it was obtained without the consent of FTOA members nor the executive. Having done that we should consider entering into fresh negotiations with NOCMA in order to secure the job,” he adds.
Efforts to talk to Luhanga proved futile as his phone could not be reached.
But a source within FTOA has told Nyasa Times that Mwenera is being used by NOCMA to destabilize the association.
“Mwenera and his other friends never paid any contributions to the injunction costs as everyone in the association knows that they advance the interest of NOCMA. It is unfortunate that while the entire association is advancing the interest of the nation, he and his fellow misguided people are advancing their personal interests. I feel sad. It really pains me,” said one fuel tank operator based in Lilongwe.
Earlier, NOCMA, through its sworn statement by its director of operations Rueben Micklas opposed the application for an injunction by FTOA, claiming that some of the members of FTOA have been benefiting through the same DDU in contention as Nocma has been giving business to association’s members.
According to Micklas, the application for an injunction was based on lack of understanding of the local regulatory framework as well as international commercial terms that govern fuel importation.
He also argued that there is no law or rule in Malawi which prescribes ex-tank method of importing fuel as over DDU method.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :