Corrupt government officials at the Road Traffic Directorate and the parent Ministry of Public Works have devised a scheme where an investor has been roped in to monopolize vehicle inspection for issuance of certificate of fitness (CoF) as the directorate will offload this function to private garages and dealers in November with an aim of ripping off unsuspecting motorists while benefitting the investor on one hand and the unscrupulous officials on the other, Nyasa Times can reveal.
In October 2014, Road Traffic Diretorate invited expressions of interest from private garages and motor vehicle dealers to participate in the programme and that the successful garages will be granted a five-year licence with subsequent renewals for a two-year period.
Reports are rife to the effect that a preferred investor, who is a Malawian of Asian origin, is constructing a vehicle inspection facility with an assurance that they will be given the contract to run the COF service on behalf of government.
According to an impeccable source within the Road Traffic Directorate, a Malawian of Asian origin that runs a spare parts shop named MOVESA is alleged to be behind this clandestine development together with senior government officials who have been incorporated as shareholders in this sinister scheme.
However, Director of Road Traffic Directorate Jacques Manonga played down the report and said that as faras he is concerned his department has already asked PVHO to take over the function because they have enough facilities to carry out such functions.
Manonga in a guarded monologue wanted to find out where Nyasa Times got the story, before saying that there is no story because his department is already in talks with PVHO to take over the COF function.
“Whilst the idea of improving vehicle inspection standards and improving access to such important service to the public are welcome, the approach to create a monopoly is a dangerous one because such services are regulatory and protected by law and therefore any chargeable fees determined by such monopoly will be imposed on the general public because the investor is bound to charge more to have a return on the investment,” said the source.
The source said the prime objective of vehicle inspection service is to ensure road worthiness and safety and not necessarily revenue generation.
“Imposing unacceptable fees is counterproductive because the fees are most likely beingexorbitant and unaffordable to the public. The situation will culminate in high default rate and render the entire the COF function useless. This may likely increase road carnage as people will shun vehicle inspection,” added the source.
Speaking in an interview Malawi Congress Party (MCP) legislator Alekeni Wodala Menyani who is also Chairperson of the Parliamentary Public Accounts Committee said PVHO can be an ideal institution to handle such services.
“I am surprised that government is contemplating outsourcing such an important service to a private investor whose aim is to make money instead of using a government owned institution such as PVHO which have workshops in each and every district of the country and are on the verge of collapse because of underutilization. Something is not adding up here,” said Menyani.
However, the source said, PVHO needs to put its house in order because they are stories of resistance to change which are hampering its own improvement.
“Transferring this function to PVHO will give this apparently dormant government institution some work to do in addition to the services they are providing. However, if not properly done it will also be transferring corruption from Road Traffic to PVHO. But PVHO will need government support in this endeavour to build the needed capacity,” said the source.
The source further said: “The benefits of giving this service to PVHO by far outweighs the risks of creating a monopoly in private sector which will focus on enriching itself than providing meaningful service to the motorists who are already complaining about high and arbitrary Road Traffic fees.”
As Nyasa Times is reporting this it is alleged that MOVESA have already built an inspection facility in Lilongwe near Kamuzu Central Hospital to capitalize on the government’s move.
Efforts to hear MOVESA’s side of the story hit a snag as the owners of the firm were playing hide and seek with this reporter.
“It is ironic that a regime can allow subjecting its citizens to such exploitation while it claims to be a caring government. Such maneuvers which are aimed at taking advantage of poor motorists should not be condoned. It will be surprising if authorities will pass such regulations at the expense of the country’s poor. The authorities should learn to listen to the voice of reason and refrain from privatizing essential regulatory service like COF in the name of outsourcing to greedy individuals or unscrupulous firms,” said the source.
He further said this will have a long term impact on the country’s Road Traffic safety as compliance by the general public will be compromised by high default rate.
According to Road Traffic Directorate spokesperson Chisomo Chibwana the provision to outsource private garages is provided in the Road Traffic Act 1997.
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