Lake shore residents against oil drilling in Lake Malawi

People living on the shores of Lake Malawi and whose livelihoods depend on the lake have asked government not to allow oil drilling in Lake Malawi saying ioils spills may have devastating consequences.

But in case government becomes adamant, the people said they need assurance from government that proceeds from the project will hugely benefit the citizens.

There was no immediate comment from government as Energy Minister Cassim Chilumpha could not be reached for comment.

Katawa: Addressing a news conference

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.

Former Energy Minister Goodall Gondwe signed the memorandum of understanding with Surestream of behalf of the Malawi government.

The concerned citizens made the appeal during a press briefing  in Mzuzu on Saturday where they called upon government to immediately suspend the Environmental Impact assessment.

“Lake Malawi is a major Tourist destination. We feel Malawi stand to lose revenue through tourism activities such as boat races and swimming competitions among others. Further more lodges, hotels and rest houses might close down due to lack of business,” Chairperson of the group Watson Katawa Nyasulu said.

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

“The agreement between the Malawi government and Surestream was done without consultation. We remember quite well that there was a massive consultation when granting the Kayerekera Uranium Mining contract. Why does the go government not do the same for this Oil drilling project,” said Nyasulu.

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 group claims its on  going research has revealed that 95 percent of the people are against the project mainly because they see little benefit from it than their daily fishing activities.

“We are calling upon government to respond to our appeal failing which we will mobilize Malawians to peacefully demonstrate against the implementation of the project,” Nyasulu said.

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