The importation of fuel through rail appears to be the way to go for Malawi as it brings in more cargo and reduces costs by 15 percent, according to Petroleum Importers Limited (PIL).
On Wednesday, PIL received 500,000 litres of fuel from Mozambique through the Nacala railway for the first time in seven months as the railway line got damaged.
According to PIL general manager Martin Msimuko, the company aims to increase rail fuel importation to 20 percent of the total imports from the current 15 percent in the next two years.
"It is our hope that this resumption will be sustained by our partners Nacala logistics so that we continue having alternative route for our fuel products. PIL is the only fuel importing company that has been using all the three supply routes in the country. This gives us flexibility to always be ready to switch supply route at any given time in case one of the routes becomes disrupted due to various reasons.
"You will remember a few years ago we had roads in our neighboring Mozambique made impassable by tropical cyclone Idai, rail from the port of Nacala then provides a good alternative as the suppliers would easily transfer products and start supplying through this as an alternative to the port of Beira," he said.
Nacala Logistics, Commercial and Marketing Manager, Kennedy Kwerani said they were still developing their infrastructure to extend to Lilongwe so that customers can still ferry fuel through cargo to the central region.
"We are buying four more engines by the end of this year, to compliment PIL's dream of importing 20 percent fuel into the country," he said.
George Nyondo, Total Energies Malawi Operations Manager also commended the transportation saying it is fast.
"Most of the trucks have about five to eight compartments, unlike the cargo with only one, which makes its easy and fast to offload fuel," he said.
Nacala Logistics figures show that it costs an average of $0.06 (about K61.23) to $0.08 (about K81. 64) per tonne per kilometre to transport goods by rail while freight or road transport costs $0.10 (about K102.05) to $0.12 (about K122.46) per tonne per kilometer.