The Malawi Energy Regulatory Authority (Mera) has said gazetting of new standards to apply to activities and retailing of fuel in the energy sector is the beginning of a process to enforce best practices that must be followed by all players.
Among other things, the new standards stipulate where to erect a filling station and what facilities should be included in the design to minimise risks to human life and the environment.
Mera Chief Executive Officer, Collins Magalasi, said although the Energy Regulation Act was passed in 2004, there was a gap of several years before the law was operationalised, leading to some gaps that needed to be addressed by the new standards.
Mera started its operations in 2008, after the Energy Act was passed four years prior. A year later, regulations were introduced but, according to Magalasi, between 2009 and 2017, there were no standards to govern fuel retailing, although the law had a provision to include them [standards].
“What is important is that, after long consultations, we now have the standards and, going forward, we want order and safety,” he said.
Magalasi also said those that took advantage of the existing gaps to erect sub-standard filling stations will be asked to develop improvement plans to meet the new requirements or risk having their premises shut down if they do not comply.
“We will not allow construction of a filling station within a radius of one kilometre from an existing service station. But, since other filling stations are already on the ground, we will give them specific improvement plans. Those operating within reach of other filling stations will be given tougher regulations to minimise risk,” he said.
Mera was established in the country through an Act of Parliament and is mandated to receive and process license applications for energy undertakings. It also oversees granting of licenses, revokation or amendment.
Mera is also responsible for enforcing compliance of standards by licensees, among its many other responsibilities.
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