Over a thousand t r u c k s w e r e yesterday off the country ’s roads in a nationwide strike by the Trucks Drivers Association of Malawi (TDM) where they are demanding a 300 percent pay raise.
Trucks are a major mode of transportation of good s be tween landlocked Malawi and its neighbouring countries, forming the backbone of the country’s economic and trading lifeline.
W h e n t h e s t r i ke started early yesterday, a government task force is reported to have gone into an emergency discussion in Lilongwe with TDM o f f i c i a l s and t h e i r employers, Transporters Association of Malawi (TAM) over the drivers’ demand for a pay increase.
TDM executive member Felix Kalimba said in an interview yesterday over 1000 trucks were detained in Lilongwe, Blantyre, Mzuzu, Karonga and all border posts including Songwe in the North, Mwanza in the South and Mwami in Mchinji in the Centre.
He said: “We have detained vehicles across the country’s districts and in all border posts. We will not stop until our grievances are resolved.
“But we want to make it clear that we have not been sent by any politician and we do not want any politician to intervene on this matter because this matter concerns drivers only.”
Although the strike was meant only for drivers affiliated to the association, it ended up affecting government drivers and people on private errands in the areas affected such as Lilongwe.
Cross-border drivers such as those from Zambia and Tanzania were also affected as their trucks were not allowed to leave the country.
Kalimba said they want their employers to peg the minimum wage at K400 000 and the maximum at K500 000 per month, considering the nature of their work as well as their living conditions.
According to him, the current minimum wage is K31 000 and the maximum is K51 000 per month, an amount he said is too little for their families’ survival.
TDM claims that it issued a notice of strike but that government and TAM failed to provide solutions to their expectations.
Road Transport Association of Malawi president Abdul Lambat confirmed that the crucial meeting was held and that he is expecting to receive a report on the matter.
Meanwhile, the strike saw about 136 trucks detained at three sites in Lilongwe, including Mchinji Roundabout, where there were 40 vehicles, Kanengo (60) and six miles 36. In Blantyre, trucks that had camped at Ngumbe were delaying traffic as they had occupied part of the road.
TDM officials were seen enforcing the strike by stopping any truck on the road.