Automatic car licence in Malawi: Traffic Directorate, Driving Schools differ

Directorate of Road Traffic-DORT in the ministry of Transport and Public Works, has dispelled rumours that it is yet to commence the examination and issuance of licenses of the automatic geared motor vehicles, saying the exercise is already on course.

Road Traffic offices in Lilongwe

Road Traffic offices in Lilongwe

Edison Pasulani Chairman for Central Region Driving schools Association

Edison Pasulani Chairman for Central Region Driving schools Association

However, Central Region Driving School Association described the claims as a “total” joke, saying the exercise of such magnitude cannot be implemented in their absence as stakeholders

Rumors are rife that the department will soon be officially launching what is termed massive examination exercise of the automatic geared vehicles.

Speaking in an interview DORT publicist Chisomo Chibwana said that her department is already offering such a service.

Said Chisomo: “It is not true that we are yet to carry out this exercise. We started already doing this sort of a job sometime back. Infact we clarified this issue in November last year (2014) that the Road Traffic is planning to issue out different licenses for automatic as well as manual vehicles, and indeed owing to this we are now on course”.

While she described the rumours as mere misconceptions, she disclosed that examinations of the two are conducted concurrently depending on the choice of the clients which is relayed by their respective driving schools.

“The driving schools come to us and tell us that this person or this particular individual has only been trained on an automatic vehicle. And we do exactly just like that, testing such a person on an automatic vehicle as well”.

She said it is issuing the same usual license. Adding that the only difference is that license meant for an automatic geared vehicle is limited to an automatic vehicle only, and that the holder is not allowed to drive the manually geared vehicle, on conditions that such kind of a license has some restrictions indorsed on it.

“If you are licensed on an automatic vehicle you are not authorized to drive a vehicle that is of manual transmission. And if the police find you that you have a license that has restrictions of showing you are only authorized to drive an automatic vehicle, and yet you are attempting to drive a manual vehicle then your license will be revoked”.

“This is so, because you have totally contravened the road traffic rules. Mind you, the license that we are issuing is the same card, and we haven’t changed the process, in fact apart from the restrictions nothing has changed. And going by comparisons, majority of people opt for manual training because they don’t want to have restrictions as a driver”.

However, owner of Alinafe Driving School, who briefly spoke on condition of anonymity before referring LINA to Central Region Driving School Association, expressed ignorance, saying to him the issue still remains a rumor.

“This is news to me. Actually I am hearing it from you. I have at my driving school here, never ever came across somebody seeking training for an automatic vehicle, let alone a license of that nature. Anyway, we have our own Association that is mandated to speak to media on our behalf. May you please try to find out from Mr Pasulani he is the chairman”.

Contacted for comment Edson Pasulani, chairman of the Central Region Driving School Association, minced no words saying the Road Traffic should embrace a culture of making a formal communication and telling the truth as well.

He argued that DOLT, as per their earlier promises could not on their own went ahead implementing the issuance of automating driving licenses without involving the association as the main stakeholders.

“At the meantime, as an Association, we are not aware that they have started issuing licenses of automatic vehicles. But what I know is that we had a meeting with them in January this year (2015) where as stakeholders, had asked them to clear the mist, concerning this issue which we still treat as rumors, and they only said they would come back to us, but to date they haven’t”.

Pasulani who is also owner of Keni Boarding Driving School situated in Area 47, sector 2, in Lilongwe, echoed Alinafe’s sentiments saying he has so far not trained an automatic geared vehicle learner at his school.

“I may be compelled to think that the ones being provided with such kind of licenses are trained at individual levels. But if this happened to be true then this is total confusion per say, because we are the first people who were supposed to know about these new developments. And in my case, up to now I have trained not even a single learner at my school vying for an automatic vehicle, honestly speaking am totally puzzled”.

He hinted that his association is contemplating having a roundtable discussion with the DOLT anytime soon, whose aim he said was trying to map out a strategy on how to go about the seemingly jigsaw puzzle.

In a related development, Pasulani has also accused DORT for conducting what he described harsh and astonishing driving school inspection exercise.

Pasulani’s accusation comes on the heels of DORT’s recent routine inspection visits to all driving schools countrywide.

“ I have been in this industry for over 30 years, but have never seen such an ugly and fault finding inspection that had been conducted lately. To our surprising, they were looking for unusual things. How can they ask you to go for Certificate Of Fitness-COF yet they are the same people who okayed that vehicle just less than six months ago, can this be realistic?”

Another stumbling block apart from inspecting appropriateness of the premises, such as offices, qualification of trainers, Pasulani said, was a requirement of disposing off vehicles that have clocked more than 10 years. A development he viewed is aimed at suffocating the industry.

DORT’s act of 2000 read in part: “Professional driving permit shall, subject to the provision of this part and part 2 authorize the driving motor vehicle of a conveying: (a) persons or person and goods for reward or: (b) goods only for reward”.

DORT received uproar from the public towards the end of last year (2014) after it hiked fees unexpectedly of licenses, COF among others-LINA.

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Read the article properly. Only the automatic transmission licence has restrictions… the manual one has none…. this happens in many countries…. there is nothing wrong here.


i dont understand the idea behind.!!!!!
Does this mean one will probably hold 2 different licences if he has to drive both different transmission?
Will the last issued manual transmission holders have their licence terminated upon obtaining automatic geared transmission?

Please dont seperate us from the world!!!! we deserve same rights as the rests enjoy out there.

Concerned Malawian(From RSA)


Awa a ma school they know they will make less money coz it takes relatively fewer days to train someone to drive an autocar

Jeremia Gondwe

Malawians lets be serous wth our national issues,,,,i ws expctng DORT to advocate fo good roads in malawi,, we need good roads in malawi,,,in city even rural areas,,,kawale, chilinde,23 chilobwe, bangwe, mchenga utuwa,,,ect,,,whts wromg with our ‘Licence,,,kuba basi mutibeleromso ngati za passport,,,,mwatiomjeza,,,,


only in Malawi you find two types of licences for automatic as well as manual transmission. Where are we getting some of these from?


Total nosence…apolisi akatigwira amangotipempha ti ma K1000 ati ka lunch ndie mukuona ngati mukupangazo zili ndi phindu chani..Ngozi ndi ngozi basi. Ngati mukufuna mupangenso lisense ya ma floods ndi zivomelezi. Road traffic department yakatangale ndi chinyengo ndazionera ndatopa. ACB please tafikaniko kumeneku kuli ntchito yanu osamangopanga ma strike musakugwira ntchito. Muzichita kuuzidwa kuti mphwiyo waba ndie kamutengeni, zachamba. Mukapanda kutero Titsekanso that department


Ku US anayamba kalekale zimenezi. Good move Malawi

The Binoculars
Iwe ZADZIWIKA unamo bodza.Anybody who has driven a manual vehicle cannot have problems with Automatic transmitted vehicle.My wife and I had two manual vehicles for over 15yrs;and later on we disposed both, and bought two almost new automatic transmitted vehicles.We were able to drive the vehicles immediately as soon as they arrived at home without any problems at all.Automatic transmitted vehicles are easiest to drive on earth.Anybody can jump on it; switch it on,move the gear lever from P to D and move the right foot from the break/clutch pedal slowly ,and the car starts moving before you finally press… Read more »
mangochi kabwafu

Whats the big deal here? Let automatic licences be offered to those that prefer them. Its easier to drive auto tranny than manual and vice versa. It happens here in the UK where we have people who only drive auto cars and manual licence holders who are allowed to drive both. Backward Africa and Malawi in particular.


Chisomo Chibwana mwana wa former PP SG bwana Chibwana waonatu dziko mmene dziko likhalira.poyamba you were so critical of APM Lero ndiapa ukunjoya in his govt

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