By John Chihana
Chitipa, October 14, Mana: The Malawi Energy Regulatory Authority (MERA) has bemoaned the increase in illegal fuel vending in Chitipa District, saying the development is compromising government efforts in revenue collection.
Speaking Tuesday during a sensitization meeting with security stakeholders in the district, Senior Licensing Officer for MERA, Tufwane Mwagomba said the authority had noted an increase in illegal fuel vending despite the district having legal fuel and service stations.
Mwagomba said the malpractice does not only contribute to loss of revenue to the government but also poses a safety threat to communities as the fuel is not stored in safe and protected environment.
“We promote selling of fuel at legal selling points since the commodity at these points is of standard quality and its sold at regulated price, while the same commodity sold illegally by vendors is expensive with compromised quality,” said Mwagomba.
He said MERA is determined to curb illegal fuel vending by among other things, developing guidelines which will make it easier for construction of fueling stations in rural areas so that consumers refrain from buying fuel from illegal vendors.
“In order to improve access to legal fuel selling points in rural areas, we have developed guidelines to facilitate construction of fuel stations in rural set ups whilst meeting the minimum safety requirements and serving the public with right quantities,” added Mwagomba.
Officer in-Charge for Chitipa Police Station, Assistant Commissioner of Police, Aubrey Kawale said police in the district have intensified operations to deal with illegal fuel vending in key areas where the malpractice is rampant.
“We also periodically conduct sensitization campaigns to consumers so that they should be buying fuel from sellers who are permitted by MERA.
“We have also scaled up patrols along the borders in order to curb the illegal smuggling of fuel into the district,” said Kawale.
Kawale said since 2002, a total of six people have died in separate fire accidents related to illegal storage of fuel, with the latest recorded in 2017.