International coach operators plying between South Africa and Malawi have said they are having difficulties to operate due to, among other reasons, poor patronage.
According to Business News spot checks some coaches are taking in as less as 20 passengers on the Lilongwe-Johannesburg route.
Two luxury coach managers and an officer we spoke to in separate interviews confirmed about the reduction in the number of passengers travelling to South Africa.
Operators suspect the economic slowdown is one of the factors affecting international travellers.
Intercape Malawi office manager Anthony Nhlongo disclosed that compared to last year patronage has gone down by about 30 percent.
He said: “Compared to the same period last year I would say we are faring badly this time around. Sometimes we are taking on board not more than 30 passengers on the Malawi-South Africa trip, while on return we are able to pick about 40 passengers.”
He said most of the coaches have a capacity of carrying 70 passengers.
Nhlongo said so far, some regular passengers—who are crossborder traders have stopped travelling because they are finding difficulties to sell their merchandise in the country.
Sales representative for another international coach operator, JR Choue, Chikondi Jameson said last year was better in term of business compared to this year.
In random interviews, some crossborder traders found at the Lilongwe Coach Terminal waiting to board international coaches said economic conditions are harsh in Malawi this year.