THE Zambian government has said it is assessing possibility of facilitating for a private sector-driven business venture of exporting fuel to Malawi and Mozambique to forestall smugglings of the commodity.
Energy and Water Development Permanent Secretary George Zulu said it was clear that there was demand for fuel in some regions of the two neighbouring countries which were near Chipata district.
He said there was need for efforts to address the problem of smuggling of fuel which was not only wrong but hazardous to those involved in the business and the public in general.
"As Government we want to use formal structures such as the Zambia, Malawi and Mozambique Growth Triangle, a United Nations Development Programme-supported programme aimed at promoting trade and development among the three countries which share common borders to ensure that the illegal trade in fuel is formalised.
"The truth of the matter is there is a serious problem of illegal fuel trade between Zambia, Malawi and Mozambique. As Government we want to facilitate for the private sector to formalise this business which can be disastrous for the three countries if it continues being conducted by smugglers who are cashing in while putting at risk the lives of the innocent citizens of the three countries," Mr Zulu said.
Mr Zulu said the Government has released funding for the construction of a 40-million tonne capacity provincial fuel reserve tank in Chipata.
The tank would be divided into compartments for storing various petroleum products such as fuel, diesel and kerosene.
He said having a facility for bulk fuel storage in Chipata would play a strategic role in ensuring that there were sufficient reserves of fuel for local consumption after exporting to Malawi and Mozambique.
And Mr Zulu has also thanked paramount chief Mupezeni of the Ngoni people of Eastern Province for donating 10 hectares of land near his palace on which the 40-million tonnes fuel provincial reserve tank would be constructed.