The Public Private Partnership Commission (PPPC) has called for sound regulatory framework in the transport sector to ensure sanity and incentivise operators.
In an interview on Thursday, PPPC chief executive officer Jimmy Lipunga said it could be true that some areas are underserved, but this anomaly can only be rectified if there was a sound regulatory framework.
He said: “We have said it before that we must have strong regulations governing the rail, marine and the road sector so that issues of safety, affordability and sustainability are given priority.
“The regulations can also help tackle issues of loss-making routes and how operators plying in those areas can be given incentives.”
Lipunga called on the Ministry of Transport and Public Works to take a leading role to end this challenge as it has a transport sector master plan.
His sentiments were shared by Indian High Commissioner Suresh Kumar Menon, who observed in an interview that most rural areas are under-served, making it difficult for farmers to move their goods to the market.
He said Malawi can take advantage of the presence of Indian bus manufacturers in the country including Leyland, Eicher and Tata and enter into an agreement through a public private partnership (PPP) model with these companies to serve the rural areas.
Head of Tata Motors in Malawi, Jha Vishwas, said they are ready to enter into a PPP agreement if approached by government, adding that they have done the same in Mozambique, Senegal and Ivory Coast.
Transport sector analysts have urged government to explore PPP arrangement in the transport sector as one way of dealing with the challenges.
The transport sector in the country is in a mess, forcing people, particularly in rural areas, to rely on vehicles which are prone to accidents.
Since the public transportation system collapsed some years ago, minibuses have filled up the gap.
The Malawi government deregulated the transport sector in early 2000s, a development that resulted in proliferation of private operators.
The deregulation of the sector also saw some operators only concentrating on profitable routes at the expense of rural areas, which has led to some commuters complaining that they are poorly treated when travelling in areas that are deemed loss-making. n