Gaps in current laws governing the energy sector are said to be restricting Malawi Energy Regulatory Authority (Mera) in carrying out its functions well, which includes regulating the filling station business.
Parliamentary Budget and Finance Committee members asked Mera when it appeared before the committee on Friday to discuss Mera’s 2016/17 performance report and its plans for the 2017/18 financial year.
Machinga Likwenu Member of Parliament David Lally asked Mera what policies govern the establishment of filling stations and feared that, environmentally, they can affect lives of people looking at how close they are from each other or the next filling station.
Said Lally: “I would like to know from Mera what policy guidelines are there for constructing filling stations? Everywhere people are constructing filling stations and its worrying. What does the law say are the recommended distances before one constructs a filling station? For instance at Bunda Turn-off there are too many filling stations, what does the law say?”
Mera acting chief executive officer Ishmael Chioko said the outdated laws are affecting its operations, which includes the regulations of filling stations, hence, they can do nothing about it until the reviewed laws are gazetted.
“We will start regulating filling stations once the new law is gazetted, but currently, there is nothing we can do and the filling stations that are there will still continue operating. Without the new law, we don’t have any power and there is nothing we can do. We are indeed supposed to be regulating these filling stations but we are powerless,” he said.
Chioko further said that the gaps in the current laws constrain Mera that it does not even have the powers to impose monetary sanctions in the Liquid Fuels and Gas sector.
Currently, the country operates on outdated laws in the energy sector which give ultimate powers to the President on deals involving the sector.
The outdated acts include the Mining Act which dates back to 1981 and the Petroleum Act which dates back to 1983.