Minibus Owners Association of Malawi (Moam) Southern Region Chapter has threatened that minibus operators nationwide will go on strike if councils will not handover management of minibus terminals to them.
In a communique’ signed by Moam Southern Region Chapter chairperson Misheck Munthali, the bone of contention is on the management of Mibawa and Limbe Market minibus terminals, whose conditions are deteriorating, thereby affecting their business.
The communique’ claims despite minibus drivers paying fees ranging from K200 to K400 per trip, depending on the routes, conditions in the terminals have worsened compared to when Moam was managing the facilities.
While pointing out that such challenges are mainly being faced in the two terminals at Blantyre and Limbe Market, the communique further alleges that there are situations when minibus operators are forced to pay as much as K140 000 per month to be given priority in the minibus queue.
Reads the communique’ in part: “So, as Moam, we want these issues addressed before March 16 2020. We are giving a two-week ultimatum for these problems to be solved and for councils to hand over operations back to Moam as before.”
Munthali in a telephone interview on Tuesdaay said before Blantyre City Council (BCC) started managing the terminals, Moam ensured good sanitation and hygiene in the facilities, among other things.
He said: “We would use the money collected from minibuses for clearing the terminals and plans were also underway to put tarmac at Blantyre Mibawa Minibus Terminal. But now if you go there, you will be surprised to see how filthy the place has become.”
Munthali said this forces customers opt for minibuses that do not park in the terminals which is ruining their businesses.
He warned that if the issue is not addressed within the given period, they will lobby with their counterparts in other cities to have terminals in both Blantyre and other cities under their management.
But when contacted, Moam national chairperson Felix Mboonekera said he would comment later.
Meanwhile, BCC public relations manager Anthony Kasunda said in a separate interview the council does not recognise Moam and that the minibus owners body should have nothing to do with management of the terminals.
During a visit to the terminals on Tuesday, vendors were seen on the sideways roasting fresh maize and some selling merchandise, leaving little room to minibuses and pedestrians.
The High Court in Blantyre on March 28 2018 ordered Moam to stop collecting any type of fee from minibuses within Blantyre City. High Court Judge Rowland Mbvundula made the ruling following a court case involving Clifford Mbuluma of K and N Consult and BCC in which they took Moam to court over disputes relating to collection of fees and levies at Mibawa Bus Terminal and other places within the city of Blantyre.