With the fuel crisis continuing to bite, vendors of the scarce commodity have taken advantage of the countryÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s porous borders to buy it from Chipata in Zambia in jerry cans and resell it at 100 percent profit in Malawi.
A recent Mana investigation revealed that these vendors have discovered ways of smuggling the commodity into the country without being caught.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“We just bribe some of the officers at the borders or roadblocks. The only police officers that seem difficult are the ones stationed at Namitete Roadblock,Ã¢â‚¬Â said one of the vendors in Mchinji on condition of anonymity
The vendor tried to persuade this reporter to venture into the business, boasting it is lucrative.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Madam, if you have K10 000 ($60), you can start the business. It doesnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t need a lot of money,Ã¢â‚¬Â said the vendor.
He, however, admitted there are risks in the business as some people who are caught are reportedly kept in police cells for more than four days.
But the vendor said if those who have been caught have money, they are released and given their fuel back.
Police in Mchinji confirmed the existence of the business, saying it is difficult to arrest all the culprits as the countryÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s borders are porous.
Officer-in-Charge for Mchinji Police Station McPhine Gumbo told Mana his office is working day and night to arrest those involved in the trade.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“We are aware of the situation. But that claim that they are even bribing our officers, I donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t know. May be they do so, but once we find those officers, they will be dealt with,Ã¢â‚¬Â he said.
Gumbo also said police confiscate fuel and send culprits to court where they are charged with smuggling or illegal possession of petroleum products.
He then called upon minibus drivers to work with his office to report people who are using public transport to smuggle fuel into the country.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“I think minibus drivers are not helping us by not reporting such cases. May be they are benefiting more from the trade,Ã¢â‚¬Â he said.