Minibus Owners Association of Malawi (Moam) on Tuesday asked minibus drivers to resume work, hours after they went on strike to force government to revise what they termed exorbitant road traffic fines.
Moam general secretary Coaxley Kamange in an interview on Tuesday said the association asked the drivers to resume work because the strike was affecting innocent people.
He said the drivers’ concerns were genuine, urging government to consider them.
Said Kamange: “Most of their concerns are genuine but we looked at the impact of the strike. Some patients failed to access medical attention in time because they were forced to walk long distances to hospitals, while some employees and businesspeople were late to their workplaces.”
He said the association has since written Vice-President Saulos Chilima, who is also Minister of Economic Planning and Development and Public Sector Reforms, to consider revising traffic fines and driving licence fees as part of reforms in the Police and Directorate of Road Traffic and Safety Service (DRTSS).
According to the drivers, road offences attract a minimum of K20 000 in fines, while their daily target is K13 000.
The drivers also bemoaned the cost of licences for minibuses, at K250 000, which they described as too expensive.
When the strike started in the morning, the drivers stopped operating passenger service vehicles—including minibuses and Sientas—leaving commuters with no choice but to walk to their respective destinations.
In a separate interview, one of the minibus drivers Blessings Mbewe, who operates on the Blantyre-Mangochi route, said it is unfair that law enforcers mostly target minibuses.
Efforts to speak to Chilima’s spokesperson Pilirani Phiri proved futile as his phone went unanswered on several attempts.