A social media storm has seen the public standing against a reported move by government to proceed with plans to drill oil on Lake Malawi.
This comes amid reports that Malawi government intends to roll out the plans with an international company already given a license.
Separate reports say that this has been the centre of the dilemma government is in as activists have been rejecting the implementation of the plans to drill oil.
The government suspended oil exploration licenses on Lake Malawi on 21 November, 2014. A press release from the ministry of energy and mining indicated that all oil licenses be put on hold.
In one of the stories Malawi24 carried recently about the same issue, Malawians who commented ganged up and refused to have oil drilled on the water body saying that it will lead to loss of forex as tourists will turn their backs on Malawi if the Lake becomes polluted.
Some of our readers questioned the strategy that government has set aside to ensure that the process is sustainable and that the lake will not be destroyed. While some blamed the Malawi government for being greedy about the whole issue amid reports that the company meant to do the job will cough out billions of Kwachas to Malawi, others landed their venom on Capital Hill for not making thorough consultations on the same.
The readers also argued that the exercise bears a huge risk but only comes with minimal benefits which will also not last long.
‘’They better stop drilling the oil other than the DPP government siphoning all oil proceeds. Just Imagine Bingu pocketed over MK550Bn,’’ our reader Happy Ross Nyambocy commented in a post other readers liked.
Another reader, Lonjezo Bande wrote: ‘’First, we have a government of thieves and they will steal everything. Second, we are talking about Malawi here. I would bet there will be problems when that happens because that will see fishers suffer, the tourism sector will suffer as well. This is something we shouldn’t try.’’
Others, however, were open to the idea of exploration though they added a word of caution.
‘’That’s the problem of Malawians. Drilling is not the problem but they should only do it after making sure that the companies will adhere to safety precautions and the government should make sure that it comes up with a proper deal with the company to be given the Job.
“The oil is ours so if they don’t give us a better deal then we will keep the oil. We shouldn’t dismiss the whole idea of drilling please think for a moment! Are all these countries doing offshore drilling crazy? What has the lake benefited us all these years? There is a chance that this could be done without much disturbance to the ecosystem. Poor people! Poor minds! Eish that’s too much to stomach. I like what someone said “Malawi will die poor” kkkkkkk! “While previously war torn countries like Rwanda and Angola are developing. Our president still thinking that we could develop with Tobacco industry. Really? You got be serious gentlemen. There will be no success without trying! Wake up,’’ said Crispin Manda in a rather long comment.
Recently, an environmental activist who is promoting conservation of Lake Malawi, Godfrey Mfiti urged government to come out in the open and completely withdraw its ambition of drilling oil on Lake Malawi which is a world heritage site. He wrote: ‘’the oil exploration process when it comes to drilling stage will affect the aquatic ecology of the entire Lake Malawi.
The rare endemism of cichlids fish species occur due to special evolutionary processes. Drilling oil is accompanied by heavy machinery, noise, and pollution which will automatically affect the marine ecosystem.
This has been proven through a number of scientific studies. “The drilling of oil involves release of waste water that is often too salty.
Such water is lethal to aquatic biodiversity and not good for human consumption. The phobia is created by many Malawians since they have got experience on how the Uranium mine at Kayelekela has performed on waste water from the mine.”
Some quarters in the society claim that the Peter Mutharika led government is embarking on this move in a bid to help boost the ailing economy.