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Fuelgate’ at ESCOM pegged at 4.2 million liters

By Alick Mhango

Electricity Supply Corporation of Malawi (Escom) has confirmed revelations by Vice-President Saulos Klaus Chilima (SKC), that after losing 3.8 million litres of diesel worth K1.9 billion, the state-owned power utility has lost more diesels for the 78 megawatts generators up to 4.2 million litres.

Chilima first disclosed during the launch of United Transformation Movement (UTM) Southern Region rally at Njamba Freedom Park in Blantyre that at least three million litres of fuel were recently stolen at the parastatal.

Escom confirmed, saying it was a syndicate involving transporters, security guards and its staff.

And last weekend at another UTM rally broadcasts live on Times TV, Mibawa TV and Zodiak TV, Chilima revealed that more fuel meant for running power generators being managed by Aggreko International Projects—an independent power producer (IPP)—to help mitigate the power generation crisis in the country in the wake of challenges faced by Electricity Generation Company (Egenco) – was missing at Escom.

The Vice-President cited the diesel racket in his emphasis of entrenched corruption and fraud in government ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) under the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) administration.

Escom public relations manager Innocent Chitosi said it is indeed true about the fuel being stolen.

Chitosi said the fuel is supplied by the National Oil Company [Nocma] to Aggreko and the Escom stores.

According to Chitosi, a truck is under police investigations after it recorded that 40 000 litres was received from Nocma and delivered in the Aggreko machines.

“But when they dipped into their machine, they found there was only 20 000 litres in the truck,” Chitosi said.

Escom is currently investigating the matter to prove collusion and gross theft of the fuel.

Chilima is also on record to have challenged responsible authorities to investigate officials from the Office of the President and Cabinet (OPC) and State Residences over their alleged roles in the award of a contract in the procurement of Escom generators to the fourth bidder instead of the successful bidder.

The Vice-President said a brave female Escom chief executive officer (Evelyn Mwapasa) was transferred to a ‘small” institution for allegedly refusing to take instructions from the officials.

Escom board chairperson Thom Mpinganjira, appointed to the Escom board earlier this year, said in June that his board had ordered a forensic investigation into what it called blatant disregard of procurement rules and regulations.

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