NOCMA finally accepts Malawi hit with fuel crisis – Runs out of petrol and diesel

Barely a week after assuring the public that it has enough fuel in the country, National Oil Company of Malawi (NOCMA) now has sent an alert that it has run out of both fuel and diesel in its Strategic Fuel Reserves

In a public statement, NOCMA advises the public “to use fuel wisely to avoid long queues at pump stations, a situation currently being experienced across the country”.

Just last week, at a press briefing, NOCMA and Malawi Energy Regulatory Authority (MERA) warned against vending of fuel as well misinformation done by the public through social media that there is scarcity of fuel in the country.

NOCMA’s deputy chief executive officer, Helen Buluma — while assuring Malawians of the availability of fuel, maintained that the social media as well as mainstream media is creating public panic and chaos.

She rebuked the behaviour of some individuals who report non-factual statements of different events and situations in the country and asked the mainstream media, “the most important people in distributing information and providing the country with truth, to continue to inform and speak only the truth.”

She also rebuked reports that fuel is scarce because of the Kizz Daniels show, saying that was false, while accusing social media commentators of trying “to provide all reasons for the scarcity of fuel — saying “this type of reporting escalates the situation as people are misinformed instead of knowing the facts”.

Before the press briefing the social media was awash with reports of fuel scarcity that were accompanied by pictures of long queues at filling stations.

Even fuel tankers are queuing for fuel

The mainstream media still reported and confirmed that long fuel queues resurfaced over the weekend, with The Nation newspaper highlighting that hard hit areas included the Capital City, Lilongwe; Mzuzu; Nkhata Bay; Nkhotakota and Salima.

Further reports indicated that the weekend scenario was compounded by some people who were filling up fuel in jerrycans and selling back to motorists exorbitantly between K2,500 and K3,000 per litre.

This forced NOCMA to issue a public notice before the press briefing, disputing the reports of scarcity of fuel, saying it has adequate fuel stocks, both petrol and diesel in its Strategic Fuel Reserves across the country and that the company was in process of procuring “more stocks in addition to those available from both Dar es Salaam, Tanzania and Beira in Mozambique.

It came to this in Lilongwe

NOCMA went further to ask the general public to disregard the “false information circulating on social media to the effect that NOCMA’s petrol reserves have been depleted”.

At the press conference, Buluma also explained that despite having forex challenges in the country, as well as effects resulting from the Russia-Ukraine war, the country is able to procure fuel in adequate volumes and has not experienced any stock outs.

Present at the press conference was MERA chief executive officer, Henry Kachaje, who said they were aware of the sporadic shortage of fuel in the country but, together with NOCMA, they were working hand in hand to ensure a change by end of business August 29 and assured the nation of the availability of fuel.

Kachaje discouraged the practice of buying fuel in jerrycans and selling it back to motorists, who also create panic amongst the public, who believe that there is indeed fuel scarcity.

Meanwhile, MERA has issued a statement that it has revoked a waiver which allowed consumers to buy up to 20 litres of fuel in jerry cans, saying it has in recent days observed abuse of the waiver, as such only those allowed to make the said purchases will be those that produce a valid fuel bulk purchase permit from the institution.

The decision comes when Malawi is facing a fuel crisis; a situation which Mera and the National Oil Company of Malawi earlier said was a minor hiccup.

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