Road transport operators who ply between Malawi and Tanzania say the arrival of Fast Jet airlines on the Lilongwe-Dar Es Salaam route has not affected their business and they will not reduce fares.
When Fast Jet introduced its flights two weeks ago there were fears that Tanzania road transport operators would be hit below the belt and might reduce fares for their buses.
Currently, the bus operators charge K50 000 for a return trip while Fast Jet charges about K94 000 for a return trip.
But speaking in an interview in Lilongwe on Wednesday, Tacqua Bus Services director Henry Kaonga said since Fast Jet started its operations, there has not been any change in patronage.
“We are operating as normal because our clients and their clients are a bit different. We believe that most of their clients are those who normally travel to Tanzania to collect imported cars from Dar Es Salaam while ours are those who go to Tanzania to buy small products for resell in Malawi,” said Kaonga.
He said bus operators are experiencing a growing demand.
“We might increase our fares in January or February next year so that we continue to cater for our clients better. We have buses that operate throughout Africa and in Tanzania we have no domestic routes because our aim is to reach all African countries,” said Kaonga.
Currently, Tacqua has over 100 buses and plans to purchase more.
A regular traveller on this route, Maxwell Lesi, said they find the buses economical because they can carry more goods at a reasonable rate.
“Air transport expensive for most small-scale traders hence our continued use of buses,” said Lesi.
Most small-scale traders from Malawi travel to Tanzania to buy clothes, household items, spare parts for vehicles as well as office equipment and building materials. n