Human Rights Consultative Committee (HRCC) on Tuesday accused the Government sponsored Malawi Energy Regulatory Authority (MERA) for introducing laws which are draconian in nature and that they pose a threat to national development.
Addressing a press conference in Lilongwe , HRCC Board Chair, Robert Mkwezalamba said HRCC and Forum for National Development have discovered that MERA has secretly introduced some laws which only favours foreign oil companies.
MERA released New Regulations for the Construction of Service Stations pursuant to Regulation 39(1) of the liquid Fuels and Gas (production and Supply) (amendment) Regulations of 2017 on 4th December 2017 where among other rules, it states that an approval for Construction License shall only be issued upon approval from the Director of Environmental Affairs with actual document after submitting an EMP/EIA.
A further closer look at these regulations however reveals grave challenges for the local Investors as they are complicated, costly and against rights accorded in the Competitions and fair trading Act.
Besides other notable regulations, HRCC and FND finds the submission that any new filling station being constructed should be 1000 Metres away from an existing station-among other new requirements.
“We find these rules against fair trading rules as it will imply new entrants in the market will have to roll out their stations almost outside Cities as our Cities already have Stations next to each other. Thus the move does not make any business sense as every investor would want returns for their investments hence the need to be located where he/she can find customers. We believe the distinctive factor which is essential for buyers is service and prices,” sSaid Mkwezalamba.
HRCC and FND say stations imply need to be competitive and offer lucrative bonuses and services to its clients hence the need to freely allow all to participate.
“With our search on situations around the SADC region, we failed to secure any country regulations that provide for such conditions hence strongly feel these are strategies to put indigenous investors out of business since most of the guidelines set can easily be met by the large Oil companies who have their headquarters in developed nations. As a developing nation, it is incumbent upon the state to ensure that its policies and regulations do not disadvantage indigenous enterprises,” said Mkwezalamba.
Meanwhile, HRCC and FND say Simson Oil Company should continue with their business of Bwaila Filling Station following their investigations which has revealed that Simson Oil are the legitimate owners of the land.
“HRCC and FND were provided with land ownership details for the Service station in question which were also confirmed by City Assembly officials to be genuine and valid documentation. Thus from the documents plot no 2/692 (DP205/99) belongs to Bishop John Abraham Simama who is the current chairperson of Simson Oil. The plot was offered to Simama on 26th July 2011 and Simama accepted and paid for it on 2nd August 2011 and lease was granted on 18th July 2012. An approval for the construction of shops on the plot was granted in august 2012,” said Mkwezalamba.
The CSOs further established that on 8th May 2017 Simama was offered the applied for extension of the plot for the construction of a Filling Station.
“The City Council allowed Simama to proceed with Construction works on 25th August 2017. Further queries by the District Council on matter of encroachment were resolved by 13th October 2017 resulting in their withdraw on the matter against available documentation on the matter,” said Mkwezalamba who was flanked by Fryson Chodzi, Bright Kampaundi and Desmond Mhango.
Mera could not immediately comment.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :