Minibus commuters in MalawiÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s capital, Lilongwe,Ã‚Â on TuesdayÃ‚Â woke up to new fares which minibus operators eventually rejected, claiming drivers and conductors decided on the fares without their consent.
Minibus Owners Association of Malawi (Moam) general secretary Coxley Kamange on Tuesday disowned the new fares, saying his body is still discussing with the Ministry of Transport and Public Infrastructure on the way forward after they threatened to increase fares over hiked insurance premiums.
Consumers Association of Malawi (Cama) executive director John Kapito has since said it is time people demanded their rights as the rising cost of living is a symptom of failed governance and arrogance.
A minibus from Area 18 to Chipiku Shop on Paul Kagame Road was charging K200 (about $1.20) for the trip, with a conductor claiming fares had gone up. There were protests in the bus as those from Area 25 were forced to pay K300 (about $1.80), an increase of 100 percent.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“We have been advised by the owners and we have a target set. If we do not collect the K200 or K300, then we will be accused of theft,Ã¢â‚¬Â said a conductor to a woman who had boarded at Area 15.
Some passengers from Area 25 reported paying up to K400 (about $2.40) for the trip to the central business district.
“It is very scary that by the end of the year, we would be paying K1 000 [about $5.98] for this route. Unfortunately, you cannot walk such a distance every day,” said a passenger who identified himself as Matthews Nyirenda.
But Kamange, who said he had received numerous calls on the matter, especially from Lilongwe, accused conductors and drivers of raising the fares without the knowledge of Moam.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“The fares have not been revised. Currently, we are engaged in discussions with government and they are meeting insurance companies this afternoon,” said Kamanga.
Kapito, however, asked authorities to find solutions to problems affecting the country.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Every sector is raising prices at will. Malawians need to rise up and demand their leaders to act or leave as they have failed,Ã¢â‚¬Â said Kapito.