Hundreds of hooter-honking motorcycle taxi operators rode around Lilongwe City streets on Monday morning, causing traffic jams as they protested government’s decision to bar them from using unregistered motorcycles.
Malawi Police Service (MPS) traffic officers have recently been impounding unregistered motorcycles, fining drivers without licences and stopping them from operating in the central business district.
The Lilongwe motorcycle taxi operators, who stormed the district council offices to express their concerns, accused the government of imposing decisions without consulting them.
One of the leaders of the motorcycle operators Mavuto Alimoso said government should allow operators to carry out their business in Lilongwe’s central business district but also lower the fines for unregistered motorcycle sand operators without licences.
He said: “Again, we are asked to go to driving schools for training and to get licences. It’s costly. One needs not less than K140 000. That is a lot of money.”
Chairperson of the operators in Area 23 Kondwani Kamaliza said driving operators out of the business through the harsh laws may turn some of the affected into criminals, adding the motorcycles have created jobs for the youth.
The protesters said they will deliver their written petition at Lilongwe City Council today , but they have vowed to continue operating as usual.
Spokespersons for the Directorate of Road Traffic Services and Safety and the MPS said they needed to consult before commenting on the matter.
However, Minister of Homeland Security Richard Chimwendo Banda told Zodiak Broadcasting Station that during an earlier discussion, government gave the operators a three-month grace period to register their machines and get their licences.
He, however, said there would be negotiations on the need for the operators to wear safety crash helmets each time they ride their machines.