Bicycle taxis owners protest…barricades roads

Hordes of irate Bicycle Taxi owners popularly known as ‘Sacramentos’ barricaded major roads in the populous townships of Chibavi and Chiputula in Mzuzu with concrete streetlight poles and burning tyres in protest over the confiscation of their Bikes by Police in the early hours of Wednesday.

Police in civilian attire on Wednesday morning took the operators by surprise at the designated rank at Namizu when they confiscated all the bikes, which were then ferried in two seven tonne Lorries to the northern region Police Headquarters. 

Eyewitnesses told Nyasa Times that the Cops were angered by the harassment of one of their own the previous day by the Sacramento riders who nearly clobbered the hapless Traffic Cop who dared to school one of the operators on road usage.

Sacramentos operators are also popularly known for breaking each and every law in the ‘Highway Code’, the country’s mandatory ‘must read’ for all road users.

Apart from that the operators pelted Police and cars that attempted to drive around the barricades with stones but the Police, who were about 200 metres away, did not retaliate either by firing tear gas, blanks or live rounds.

Police have taken about 400 bikes and owners will be required to pay a fine of MK3,000 for “wrong Parking”, the operators said.

“This is very unfair because we employed ourselves since they are no jobs around. I make a minimum of MK700 per day and with that I am able to make ends meet. What do the Police want us to do? Start stealing?” queried one operator.

NyasaTimes unsuccessfully tried to seek comment from Northern Region Police Spokesperson Norrah Chimwala by calling her five times at 12:32 pm and subsequent other times but she could not pick up her mobile as it kept on ringing.

About 20 minutes later her number could not be reached.

Mzuzu Bicycle Operators Association Secretary Uyedwa Jere had a different story.

Jere accused the Mzuzu City Council for backtracking on its earlier agreement with the operators on registration and the use of designated pick up points.

According to Jere there are six such points, all on the periphery of the city.

“These are Namizu, Katoto Ground, Vigwagwa, Chibuku, Old Town and High Court. Now they have engaged the Police to chase us from all these points. This is not what we agreed,” Jere said. 

But Mzuzu City Council Chief Executive Officer Richard Hara expressed ignorance on the Police operation saying as far as he knows the six pick points were still in operation.

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