Motorists in the country can now breathe a sigh of relief after transporters and truck drivers ended their four-day strike on Friday that threatened businesses and other social services.
The group held a meeting with Cabinet ministers in Lilongwe on Friday led by Minister of Homeland Security Richard Chimwendo Banda.
Briefing the media after the meeting that lasted over four hours, Chimwendo Banda indicated that the two sides had resolved that the strike be called off, adding that government had agreed to sort out some of the concerns the group raised regarding working conditions.
Among others, the minister said government will from now onwards be giving local transporters 86.7 percent of businesses.
Said Chimwendo Banda: “We have also formed a task force comprising five Cabinet ministers and 10 members from the group’s association to be monitoring the agreements.”
The resolutions include the removal of examination assessment for professional drivers which was being done every two years, reduction of passport fees for the drivers from K120 000 to K60 000 and that the transporters will no longer be required to pay K30 000 for Covid-19 certificate.
In an interview, spokesperson for truck drivers association Paul Kachitsa said the members were happy and satisfied with the resolutions.
Said Kachitsa: “We are happy that finally our grievances are going to be addressed. We staged the strike so that our voices could be heard, no one sent us to do so. We did it because we wanted our working conditions to be improved.”
Cabinet ministers who attended the meeting included Minister of Health Khumbize Chaponda, Minister of Trade Sosten Gwengwe, Minister of Information Gospel Kazako, Minister of Civic Education and National Unity Timothy Mtambo and deputy Minister of Transport Nancy Chaola Mdooko.
Earlier on Friday the fuel situation in Lilongwe showed improvement as around 10am some fuel service stations had the commodity and motorists could be seen refueling without much panic.
But in Blantyre city by 2pm there was no sign of relief in sights cores of men—both old and young—were all over the city with mostly five-litre and 20-litre plastic containers chasing the valuable commodity.
Out of 16 service stations Weekend Nation visited only Energem situated along the Masauko Chipembere Highway at Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital (Qech) and Puma Chitawira Service Station had both petrol and diesel.
Total Christwick, Petroda Mt Pleasant and Meru Nyambadwe Service Stations were only selling diesel at the time of our visit.
In the Northern Region, petrol remained a challenge as almost all filling stations had seemingly ran out of stock. Only diesel would be sold. Like in Mzuzu, all filling stations had no petrol on Friday and motorists were being forced to send agents to buy in Rumphi, where only one filling station was operating.
Karonga District Commissioner Paul Kalilombe said not many trucks were getting into the country through the Songwe Border.
“I have seen just a few trucks passing through Karonga and we only have two filling stations operating at the Boma, the rest have run out of fuel,” he said.