Passengers in the country have expressed concern over lack of multi-purpose bus terminals, especially in cities, which can bring both local and international buses together as is the case in many countries in the Sadc region.
For example international coach operators in Lilongwe have four different parking points some without shelters, toilets or even shops nearby.
Other coach operators use filling stations as pick-up points and there is no enough security for passengers who disembark from the buses at night, thereby putting their lives at risk.
“This is very bad because we expect the authorities to help us have proper infrastructure that can make travelling comfortable. Some places where we board buses are no fit to be called bus terminals because there are no shelters, making it difficult to board buses when it is raining,” Robert Gama, a regular traveller between Malawi and South Africa, said.
He gave the example of Park Station in South Africa as a model of stations the Malawi Government can follow to safeguard the lives of both commuters and their goods.
Director of transport in the Ministry of Transport and Public Infrastructure Victor Lungu conceded that it was high time Malawi had proper bus terminals to ease some of the problems local and international bus operators face.
“We cannot do everything, but we intend to have bus terminals which will bring together local buses, international coaches and even trains in our cities together and we will do this in partnership with the Privatisation Commission using the Public Private Partnership (PPP) concept,” said Lungu.
Privatization Commission chief executive officer (CEO) Jimmy Lipunga confirmed that under PPP it would be easy to construct modern bus terminals.
“We discussed the plans to have bus terminals at a Modal (places where trains, aeroplanes, buses and taxis can easily connect with each other) to help commuters move when liquidating Shire Bus Lines. With such terminals, we can have hotels, shops, restaurants and shops at one place but the Ministry of Transport and even the City Assembly is the one to push and we can just support the ideas,” said Lipunga.
Lilongwe City Assembly CEO Kelvin Mmangisa disclosed that the assembly has plans to build a multipurpose depot and will be presenting them to government soon.
“It is a hassle for commuters to make connections in the City of Lilongwe and we already have plans to bring all buses under one roof. We started discussing this project in July last year, but until we take it to government, I cannot comment further,” said Mmangisa.
He also refused to give the exact date when the project might start but he hinted that it might not be long because there is great enthusiasm and support from well-wishers of the Lilongwe City Assembly.