Some big bus operators in the country have been accused of overpricing, especially during peak periods such as festive periods and when schools are opening or closing.
But in an interview on Tuesday, Minister of Transport and Public Works Francis Kasaila said government is powerless to enforce pricing in the transport sector.
A survey Business News conducted on Monday and Tuesday in the capital, Lilongwe revealed that in some routes fares go up by over 25 percent, a development some travellers described as unfair business practices.
For example, bus fares between Blantyre and Lilongwe are K3 500 (about $5.3) and K3 800 (about $ 5.8) one-way depending on demand, but during the festive period and when school chidren are returning to school, or returning home after schools have closed, the fare goes up to K4 000 (about $ 6.1) or K4 500 (about $6.8).
The same can be said of bus fares between Lilongwe and Zomba, which normally are K3 500 one-way, but during peak season it goes up to K4 000 while bus fares between Lilongwe and Mzuzu also surge from current normal fare of K4 500 to K5 000 (about $7.6).
In an interview some travellers said this inconveniences them because it affects their budgets every time fares are hiked.
But Competition and Fair Trading Commission (CFTC) executive director Charlotte Malonda said it was important for bus operators to be reasonable when adjusting the bus fares.
She, however, reminded the public that being a liberalised economy, traders charge products and services the way they want.
“Our major concern is to see whether the pricing is reasonable or not, but I do not want to say outright that this is prohibited without proper investigations,” Malonda said.