MEMBERS of the Petroleum Transporters Association Zambia (PTAZ) yesterday walked out of the public hearing on petroleum transportation organized by the Energy Regulation Board (ERB) as they felt the regulator was favouring transporters with foreign shareholding.
The members walked out shortly after PTAZ president Roberto Sabbadin refused to make any submissions to the public hearing.
While on the floor, Mr Sabbadin said the sitting had put him in an awkward position because his association was not informed of what was expected of them at the public hearing.
“We don’t know why this sitting was called and it has put us in a very awkward position,” Mr Sabbadin said.
It was at this moment that Mr Sabbadin and his association spokesperson Benson Tembo walked back to their seats where they collected their belongings and walking out.
The hearing was briefly interrupted as members of PTAZ walked out.
However, the sitting resumed later.
While outside, Mr Tembo said the public hearing was illegal and accused ERB of abrogating the directive by Minister of Energy Christopher Yaluma and called on the minister to address the impasse.
Mr Tembo said there was a ministerial directive to ERB that they should not engage foreign transporters with foreign shareholding and that those who were allowed to operate should not renew their licences when they expire.
“All they are doing is illegal and we call on the Minister of Energy to quickly and urgently address this issue. They (government) should just fire all of them (ERB board members); they are just wasting our time,” he said.
Earlier, ERB board chairperson Geoff Mwape said the energy regulator was mandated by law to oversee the energy sector to ensure that the sector performed according to the aspirations of government and consumers.
“With regard to petroleum transportation, the minister was concerned with the increase in the number of companies with foreign shareholding operating on the Zambia market,” Pastor Mwape said.
He said the minister directed ERB to cease the issuance of licences to companies that had foreign shareholders, and the renewal of licence for companies having shareholders once the licence expired.
ERB board member Bishop Edward Chomba told the public hearing that ERB was constituted to arbitrate on matters of petroleum business and ensuring that there was fair play.
During the hearing some transporters raised concerns that the PTAZ could be working with some Somali petroleum transporters to disadvantage local transporters and that they had no interest of Zambians at heart.
“As a board we have a mandate and it is enshrined in the law, so whoever has been talking from outside whether the board would be dissolved or not, it does not matter.
We are here to ensure that business is run in the best way,” Dr Chomba said.
He said ERB was performing its functions diligently and that it would not be dissolved because it had not engaged itself in any form of corruption.