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Motorists stranded as fuel pumps run dry

Hundreds of motorists in Malawi's central district of Kasungu were over the week left stranded after petrol pumps run dry the whole central business town, Nyasa Times has established.Only vehicles using diesel were seen on the road as the filling stations still had stock.

Some desperate and panicking motorists had to travel out of town for several kilometers to purchase the commodity at Nkhamenya Trading Centre to fill their tanks. 

"There was no petrol for about four days and business was greatly affected as everything came to a standstill. Most vehicles were parked except those using diesel," said Hannock Chirwa, a minibus driver who operates between Kasungu and Mzuzu city. 

Some clever drivers took no chance in making quick perks by buying the fuel from other areas and reselling it at a higher price. 

A five-litre gallon costs at about K1005 but the scarcity forced the price to rise to about K1500 per gallon on the black market.  

One of the country's fuel providers BP Malawi confirmed the development but said by the time of the interview the commodity had already been supplied. 

"Yes that problem was there but we have already replenished petrol supplies," said Munshi, BP Malawi Managing Director.  

But some business people have accused the filling station owners of deliberately hoarding the fuel amid reports that government is considering to raise fuel pump price. 

Finance Minister Goodal Gondwe told the media last Wednesday there was need for the country to raise its fuel prices in order to be in line with price hikes on the international market. 

Gondwe said the fuel price hikes were long overdue and it was imperative for the country to raise its pump price to avoid huge increase in the future. 

At the world market oil prices have reportedly rose by around US$1 a barrel to above US$135. 

Malawi last adjusted its fuel prices in February this year that saw the price jumping from K191.40 to K200.90 and diesel rising from K178.70 to the current K187.60.

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