International coach operators that ply between Malawi and South Africa have said their business has now picked up since government introduced the economic reforms.
The Malawi Government devalued and floated the kwacha as one way of resuscitating the country’s ailing economy.
In 2011 and early 2012, most operators suspended their services due to the twin shortage of fuel and foreign exchange.
But with the reforms, some operators have since resumed their services and new ones have been roped in.
Intercape country manager Anthony Mhlongo in an interview with Business News said business has now picked up following government’s reforms.
“We have seen the number of passengers using our coaches steadily increasing after government devalued the kwacha.
“Since October our buses are always full of businesspeople and Malawians returning home for holiday,” he said.
Most Malawian businesspeople go to South Africa to buy clothes, cosmetics, electronic equipment, drugs, motor vehicles, fruits, vegetables and other food stuffs. South Africa also offers employment to thousands of Malawians.
Mhlongo said passengers pay K24 500 (about $72) to travel from Malawi to South Africa and K39 000 (about $114) from Johannesburg to Malawi.
He said the difference in fares was done deliberately to help Malawians during this time of economic crisis.
“The real fare is K39 000, but we reduced it to K24 000 so that we help our passengers in Malawi. This business works when you have a lot of passengers on board. This is why some operators have started coming in,” said Mhlongo.
Business Times Express is one of the new operators on the route.
Lusiwilo Mwalwanda, one of the officials from the company, said they have started plying on Johannesburg-Malawi route because of increasing demand.
“It is now three months since we started our operations, but business has been very good, especially from South Africa.
“Most of the times our bus is full on the Johannesburg-Malawi leg and with the economy slowly picking up, we hope patronage from the Malawi side will improve as well,” said Mwalwanda.
Some of the operators on Johannesburg-Malawi route are Nkhuzi, Intercape, Munorurama, Ingwe, Time Travellers and Trans Zambezi.