Malawi Government on Saturday hailed the success of the only Public Private Partnership (PPP) in the transport sector by the National Bus Company (NBC), saying Malawians are now reaping its benefits.
PPP, being championed by the Privatisation Commission (PC), is a contract between a public sector authority and a private party, in which the private party provides a public service or project and assumes substantial financial, technical and operational risk in the project.
Newly appointed Deputy Minister of Transport and Public Infrastructure Sosten Gwengwe, speaking at the launch of two deck coaches christened Ndege ya Pansi valued at over K200 million, said a successful PPP is assessed on service delivery.
â€œIt is governmentâ€™s wish to make sure that everything is done to uplift the country socially and economically and as Ministry of Transport, when companies like National Bus Company come up with initiatives like these, they complement the social and economic development of the nation and we are happy,â€ said Gwengwe.
He said it is the desire of government to see big bus operators penetrate the rural areas because that is where PPP would best be enhanced.
â€œThere is concentration of big buses in towns and it is governmentâ€™s wish that these services should extend to the rural areas because that is where the majority of people live and we would want to see accessibility of the big buses,â€ he added.
Gwengwe also encouraged bus operators to engage in big buses and longer routes, arguing that this minimises road accidents.
He said the penetration of NBC in the remote areas of the country has eased the transportation of people in such areas and has also contributed to the social economic development.
NBC is a subsidiary of MBL Holdings and its chairperson Leston Mulli said the buses will provide comfortable and first class transportation between Blantyre and Lilongwe.
â€œMost of the times, I have been preaching about possibilities. This is history in the making Malawi. There have never been double deck coaches [in Malawi] with the capacity of more than 60 passengers. We only see these coaches in developed countries such as South Africa, America and the UK. Two more are coming in three months time,â€ he said.
Mulli called on local businesspeople to be creative to survive amidst the tough economic environment.
General manager for NBC Cuthbert Chinguo said the company is improving accessibility to rural areas and contributing to the social economic development of the country through employment opportunities to Malawians among other things.
â€œThe company improves accessibility to rural areas of Malawi by plying into remote areas of Malawi… such as Euthini in the North and other routes which are otherwise shunned by other bus operators,â€ he said.
The companyâ€™s shareholding structure is as follows: MBL Limited 68.52 percent, Simama 19.72 percent and Malawi Government 11.76 percent.
NBC covers 7.4 million kilometres, carrying over nine million passengers annually and generating over K1.6 billion in revenues in the process. NBC was formed in 2008 through a PPP framework in a venture between the private and the public sector. The company replaced the defunct Shire Bus Lines Limited and filled a gap in the road passenger transport sector.