Department of Road Traffic and Safety Services (DRTSS) yesterday suspended new traffic penalties and fines which it announced a week ago and were intended to come into effect today.
In a notice issued yesterday, the directorate states that the fines and penalties would be put on hold until further notice. It did not indicate why.
Reads the notice: “In view of the foregoing, the directorate will maintain the prevailing Road Traffic [Miscellaneous Fees] Regulations, 2015 and Road Traffic [Prescribed Offences and Penalties] [Amendment] Regulations 2014.”
This is the second time in recent years that DRTSS has suspended new fees after announcing them, as in November 2017 it also adjusted upwards fines and penalties by 1 150 percent only to suspend them after a public outcry.
While acknowledging suspension in a written response, DRTSS spokesperson Angelina Makwecha could not say why the directorate has suspended the new fees. She asked for a questionnaire to which she was yet to respond by press time.
But reacting to yesterday’s announcement, Minibus Owners Association of Malawi (Moam) national chairperson Felix Mboonekera said the suspension is timely as business has been tough.
He said: “We are happy that the decision to suspend the new fees and fines has been arrived at because we earlier complained that business was and is still not good on our roads.
“But now we can have hope that maybe our businesses may come back to normal and that individual Malawians may also be at peace because the adjustments would have made life difficult for them.”
The suspended fees and fines came barely a month after Malawi Revenue Authority (MRA) on November 25 introduced carbon tax to be collected on behalf of government as motorists renew their vehicle certificate of fitness (CoF).
In an earlier interview, Consumers Association of Malawi (Cama) executive director John Kapito, described the upward adjustments that DRTSS announced in 2017 as unacceptable and unnecessary, saying DRTSS services continue failing Malawians.
Under the suspended adjustments, driving a motor vehicle without a driving licence or a professional driving permit would cost motorists K15 000, up from K10 000.
In cases where motorists failed to stop a vehicle under traffic order or refusing to comply with directions, they would have been paying K20 000 from the current K8 000.
Drivers caught driving under the influence of alcohol above 0.2gramme/210mm were to pay K200 000 or in default serve a three-year jail term and one year suspension from driving.
Motorists who have no certificate of insurance on a vehicle with a capacity of more than 16 passengers but less than 32 would have been paying K500 000 from the current K200 000.
DRTSS, in a statement dated December 24, said the new fees and fines followed government notices number 75 and 76; Road Traffic Act (CAP.69.01) Road Traffic (Miscellaneous Fees) (Amendment) Regulations 2019 and Road Traffic Act (CAP.69.01) Road Traffic (Prescribed Offences and Penalties) (Amendment) Regulations 2019, respectively.