Government on Friday officially inaugurated newly constructed strategic fuel reserve facilities with a capacity of 10 million litres at Sonda in Mzuzu to ensure security of fuel supply in the country.
Speaking when he officially commissioned the facilities on behalf of President Peter Mutharika, Minister of Natural Resources, Energy and Mining Aggrey Masi described the development as a milestone in the history of the nation.
The Mzuzu facility is among the three countrywide with one in Blantyre and another in Lilongwe; both with a capacity of 25 million litres each.
“They have a combined storage capacity of 60 million litres which gives the country a two-month fuel cover,” he said.
President Mutharika inaugurated the Lilongwe facility in December, 2017 and the Blantyre depot is expected to be officially inaugurated soon but all the three are already in operation.
“[The President] emphasized the need for government to have full control over strategic commodities such as fuel.
“His position on this matter emanated from the fact that fuel is the lifeline of different components of our economy.
“Fuel supports economic activities, facilitates the delivery of social services and allows the people of this country to participate fully in the social aspects of their lives,” Masi said.
The three reserves were constructed with a loan from Exim Bank of India and are expected to cushion Malawians from what they experienced between 2010 and 2012 when the country was hit by fuel shortages.
Indian High Commissioner to Malawi Suresh Kumar Menon said the reserves were initiated by former President late Bingu wa Mutharika and the incumbent President in 2010 when they visited India.
“It is at that time that they realised that there is need for strategic fuel reserves in Malawi. So, this is not a project that has just come up suddenly.
“A lot of discussions took place on this and then government of India also realised that Malawi needs to be secured from the fuel front.
“Being a landlocked country, you depend on various ports [on the Indian Ocean] for the fuel to be supplied to Malawi and any dislocation of fuel affects directly the entire country,” Menon said.
The facilities are managed by government-owned National Oil Company of Malawi (NOCMA) Limited.
It was formed in 2010 in line with the National Energy Policy of 2003 to manage the reserves, promote competition in the oil industry and exploration of gas and oil activities.
NOCMA’s Board chair Lloyd Muhara said the construction of fuel reserves in Mzuzu has changed the face of the city.
We have constructed a 4.1-kilometre tarmac road within the Sonda area. At the start of the project, the whole area was a bush. But the area now is well-developed.
“The new road has no name, and we await the authorities to name the road accordingly,” Muhara said.