Ever since the docking barge at Nkhata Bay’s only jetty sank about a month ago, life at the port has become tough.
The problem has resulted in prolonged harbour stay due to tedious loading and offloading of passenger’s luggage which at times takes up to five hours.
In some instances, some passengers’ luggage gets soaked as the outlet boats are forced to overload to lessen the transit period.
Ernest Kondowe, a frequent passenger of the Malawi’s largest vessel MV Illala, said life is really getting unbearable and they do not know when things will normalise.
“We are forced to pay for commercial boats to ferry us and our luggage. The problem is that the two feeder boats from the Illala are used to load and offload government goods first before ordinary passengers are considered, a scenario which forces us to wait for hours before we board and disembark from the vessel.” he said.
Kondowe further pleaded with the government to expedite the process of replacing the sunken barge.
On her part, Eliness Msimuko, a banana vendor says their business has been badly affected as cannot access their frequent customers who in most cases are passengers as well as the crew on board the ship.
She said: “It was like our gold mine, we could vend freely in the vessel, as it was accessible but now we fail to do the same hence our business have completely fallen.”
Commercial boat owners charge between K100 to K200 to ferry passengers and goods from where the vessel docks about 100 meters from the shore. n