Magistrate shame MERA on illegal transportation of fuel

The Karonga First Grade Magistrate has embarrassed the Malawi Energy Regulatory Authority (MERA) by discharging four people who were caught with 1600 litres of petrol in ‘Zigubu’ saying the current legislation does not provide for alternatives in times of fuel crisis.

Ironically, a Mzuzu Court four months ago fined two men MK15,000 each or in default serve a four month jail term after finding them guilty of having 50 litres of diesel without licence.

The two men paid the fine but had their diesel confiscated.

But the Karonga Court ordered Police to return the confiscated fuel in the exact amount and MERA to issue a clearance letter so that the four travel safely to Ekwendeni where they live.

Overzealous Police at Kambwe road block intercepted two Station wagon vehicles that were coming from Songwe border laden each with 40 twenty litre ‘Zigubu’ each.

Police arrested the four, who were enroute to Ekwendeni and charged them with the illegal transportation of fuel.

But Magistrate Patrick Khamisa said it is absurd for MERA and the law enforcers to expect people with two or more vehicles to take them wherever fuel is available within the country saying it is naive and nonsensical.

He also noted that the Liquids Fuel and Gas Act restrict the production and transportation of fuels to licence holders but said the same Act also obliges government to ensure that fuel supply within the country is economical and efficient.

While Khamisa agreed with MERA that it was true that the quartet had no licence to transport the fuel but he pointed out the fact that the quartet were using their own vehicles and had five more they intended to fill up.

Khamisa said it was unfair for MERA to expect the court to punish such people when it is a fact that there is a fuel crisis in this country.

“Even government has conceded this fact and what is happening is that people go and buy where they can find the commodity and you cannot expect them for instance, if they have 20 trucks to tow them there,” he said.

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