Malawi’s dream to have 60 million litres fuel reserves seems to be taking shape following government’s tabling in Parliament of a loan authorisation bill in which it is seeking to borrow US$76.5 million from the Export-Import Bank on India of which which part of the money would be used to fund the reserves to be constructed in the three major cities of Mzuzu, Blantyre, and Lilongwe.
Tabling the Bill, Minister of Finance Ken Lipenga said the amount which is almost MK24 billion will also go towards the funding of several irrigation projects in Karonga, Salima and Mangochi as well as construction of a sugar processing plant as part of the country’s Green Belt Irrigation initiative.
He said the fuel storage facilities will have a total holding capacity of 60 million litters of both petrol and diesel which he said would be enough to cover the country for almost 60 days.
“To secure sustainable supply of fuel government established the National Oil Company of Malawi (Nocma), but Nocma has not been able to meet this mandate due to shortage of adequate storage facilities,” he said.
In his contribution to the Bill MCP spokesperson on financial matters Joseph Njobvuyalema advised government that instead of new facilities government should rehabilitate and improve the already existing fuel reserves as a way of saving money.
However, Minister of Energy and Mining Cassim Chilumpha defended the construction of the new facilities saying currently the country has fuel reserves with a combined capacity of two million litres which he said was not adequate as the fuel could only last for two days.
Chilumpha also said the reserves which are in Chilumba in Karonga, Chipoka in Salima and in Mchinji district were far from the centres where much of the fuel is required.
Lipenga said the sugar processing plant will be located in Salima while he said almost 5,000 hectares of land are targeted for irrigation through acquisition of motorised pumps in the three targeted districts.