The Minibus Owners Association of Malawi (Moam) has threatened to take unspecified action following the Road Traffic Directorate’s (RTD) resumption of impounding vehicles bearing old registration plates.
Moam president Christopher Chisesele said this in an interview on Monday.
He said: “Moam will definitely take action as it is not happy with what is happening and minibus operators are complaining. The Road Traffic Directorate is saying this is a safety measure, but they are not even checking tyres to ensure safety.”
Chisesele has also complained that there is an irregularity in the amount of money that motorists are paying when changing the number plates. For example, he observed that whereas motorists in the Central and Northern regions are paying K15 000 ($45) and K18 000 ($52), respectively, the price for the new plates in the Southern Region is as low as K13 000 ($38).
In October this year, government suspended the exercise of impounding the vehicles after the Road Transport Operators Association of Malawi (Rtoam) obtained an injunction against the move.
Rtoam executive director Chrissie Flao said her organisation cannot take another injunction unless they receive complaints from transporters.
Said Flao: “The injunction we took was against the time government put for the registration [exercise] to end and a grace period was granted before the injunction expired so that the transporters could have enough time.”
Contrary to Moam and other motorists who question the idea of the new number plates still bearing the controversial 2010 national flag depicting the sun at midday introduced by the late president Bingu wa Mutharika instead of the reintroduced independence flag with the rising sun, Rtoam said it does not find a problem with the flag on the new number plates.
“It takes seven years for the number plates’ life span to expire. These ones still bear the old flag because they have only been introduced and their life span is still long,” said Flao.
Ministry of Transport and Public Infrastructure spokesperson Joyce Malongo said that the change should happen because it will help in mopping out illegal number plates which compromise the security of the country.
She said: “Unlike the old number plates, the new ones have security features which prevent the unscrupulous people to produce illegal ones.”
She said this is in line with a Sadc protocol, which requires that vehicles be identified in terms of safety and security.
The new number plates were introduced in May 2011.