Simama in fertiliser scandal: Malawi Police impound truck carrying 600 bags of sand

Police in Malawi’s southern district of Mangochi have impounded a truck registration number KA 53 10 belonging to Simama Transport after 600 hundred bags of subsidised fertilizers it carried found filled with sand.

Officer in charge for Mangochi police station senior assistant commissioner Ephraim Chipojola says the police have so far arrested four people including a driver.

Chipojola said incident happened Friday evening when one of the bags burst open as people were offloading the subsidised fertilizer at Katuli trading centre.

“This is when it was discovered that the bags which were in a truck that came from Blantyre contained sand and not fertilizers,” said the police officer.

Fertiliser subsidy programme in Malawi riddled with corruption

Chopojola says officials from the fertilizer company Optichem Malawi confirmed that the bags were theirs but disowned the content.

“We are currently questioning those who were in the track including the driver.,” he said.

Some of those arrested are Dave Isa, Aubrey Limbanga, Mike George and Gilbert Mambo.

Optichem Productions Manager  Samuel Synoden said as a company they do not produce fertilizer mixed with sand but admitted “the sacks are ours, but the contents are not ours.”

This week the Ministry of Agriculture and Irrigation said  the fertiliser for the 2012 Farm Input Subsidy Programme (FISP), fertilizer is already in the country waiting for the official launch of the programme .

“We are just waiting for the official launching of the programme which will be communicated to the general public soon. Thereafter, smallholder farmers would access the farm inputs after they have been given the coupons,” the ministry’s Public Relations Officer, Sarah Tione told official news agency Mana.

The ministry’s publicist further said this year they have put in measures to ensure that the transporters should not divert some farm inputs or damage fertilizer bags as it has been the case in the past.

“What we will be doing this year is that any transporter who has not managed to ferry all subsidized farm inputs to its destination will pay double the cost to deter any malpractice,” said Tione.

She added that her ministry is working with its stakeholders to ensure a smooth implementation of this year’s FISP hence there is no need to panic as the programme will be successfully run.

 

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