The Ministry of Transport and Public Infrastructure and Competition and Fair Trading Commission (CFTC) have warned operators of minibuses and buses against excessively charging passengers despite fuel price reduction.
In a statement jointly signed by the ministry’s Principal Secretary Francis Chinsinga and CFTC executive director James Kaphale, the two institutions said a number of minibuses and buses are taking advantage of the global Covid-19 pandemic to exploit passengers by charging unreasonable bus fares.
The statement said a market surveillance and price monitoring exercise found that despite two consecutive downward fuel price adjustments, bus fares have gone up by between 40 and 200 percent.
Reads the statement: “By charging excessively despite the substantial fuel price reductions, bus operators are in serious breach of Section 43 of the Competition and Fair Trading Act and the Consumer Protection Act.”
In assessing whether fares were excessive, the ministry and the commission took into account prevailing fares by the same bus operators prior to the Covid-19 outbreak as benchmark fares.
Earlier, through wide stakeholder consultations, it was determined that any bus fare increase by a margin of more than 40 percent constituted excessive pricing.
To enforce compliance, the ministry and the commission have since planned enhanced joint enforcement and surveillance activities on all routes from Monday to be carried out by the Directorate of Road Traffic and Safety Services and the CFTC.
But Minibus Owners Association of Malawi president Felix Mbonekera heaped the blame on drivers and conductors who he said do not adhere to the stipulated bus fares for personal gains.