Business came to a standstill in Malawi’s northern city of Mzuzu on Monday following running battles between police and Kabaza operators.
To express their anger, the bicycle taxi operators stoned Mzuzu Police officer in-charge John Nyondo who they see as threat to their business.
Police in the city have launched a campaign to get rid of some bicycle taxi operators popularly known as Kabaza, especially in the central business district (CBD) of the city.
Speaking in an interview on Tuesday Northern Region Police spokesperson Maurice Chapola said police have arrested seven people who are suspected to have been part of the group that stoned Nyondo.
Nyondo also confirmed to Nation Online being stoned. However he said he sustained a minor cut on the head and he was treated as an outpatient at the hospital.
He condemned the behaviour of the operators. He said the police want to decongest the city streets to protect lives of citizens including those of the bicycle taxi operators.
Nyondo said the Mzuzu city has seen a sharp rise in the number of road accidents involving the cyclists. He said this year alone over 100 cases were recorded and two people dies in these accidents.
“People are complaining of accidents that is why we embarked on the exercise,” said Nyondo.
The exercise came after police and bicycle taxi operators association agreed to work together to eradicate road accidents and other cases in the city that people associate with the influx of taxi bicycles.
However, some bicycle operators have found the exercise to be retrogressive.
The argue the exercise will cut on their daily income as the routes they were plying their trade have been reduced.
The bicycle taxi operators also claim that due to reduction in the distances that they can operate on, some customers are ignoring the their ‘taxis’ and prefer to walk on foot.
One of the operators Nickson Moyo, 32 said the operation to clean the streets has heavily affected their businesses as their daily income has been reduced.
“We rely on the bicycles to support our families. With this exercise we now make K600 a day while in the past we were making K2 000. Of the K600 we have to give our employers K500 which they demand. How are we going to feed our families with K100,” said Moyo.