Blantyre on fire: Business grind to stand still as minibus operators protest

Business is at stand still in the commercial city of Blantyre as minibus drivers and conductors are staging a protest against newly introduced strict regulations enforced by the traffic police department.

Minibus drivers and conductors spotted in Chilobwe Township chanting against what they are calling ‘harsh conditions’ imposed on them by traffic police

On fire: At Kamba in Naperi on the main minibus route connecting places like Manja, Nkolokosa and Chilobwe to Blantyre CBD and many other places including Ndirande township

Some from burning tires that the striking minibus drivers and conductors have placed on the road at Kudya in Soche East

Blantyre on fire

Despite Minibus Owners Association of Malawi (Moam) condemning the protest on Thursday, commuters woke up to a surprise this morning as no minibus is operating within Blantyre city and people are being forced to walk to work or their designated business places.

The situation is currently getting out of hand in some parts of the city especially in Bangwe and on Zingwangwa-Chilobwe route as the disgruntled minibus drivers and conductors have started blocking roads with stones while burning tyres, stopping vehicles that are offering to ferry stranded commuters.

They are chanting on the roads while questioning other vehicles carrying many passengers on board.

Nyasa Times can confirm that police have rushed in to calm the situation by firing teargas, which might compound the situation.

However, some minibuses have defied the protest and are operating especially on Ndirande-Limbe route.

According to information Nyasa Times has gathered, the drivers and conductors met yesterday and agreed to abandon work inorder to force authorities to ease on them especially on the new road operating regulations.

In one of Whatsapp circulated messages amongst the drivers and conductors, they claim that now are being forced to pay K20,000 or face 5-year jail term if found carrying maize bags or any heavy luggage; to pay K150,000 or face 5-year-jail term for exceeding sitting capacity; to pay K20,000 or 5-year-jail term for wrong parking.

“Izi zabwera kamba kuchuluka kwa ngozi mMalawi muno (this is so due to increased accidents on the roads of Malawi),” reads in part the message.

Parliament last month endorsed a proposal stopping buses from carrying standing passengers and that all buses should be fitted with seat belts.

The proposal also demands that minibuses should only be operating on designated routes identified by color code and route numbering and that drivers or conductors should face hefty fines or jail term for failing to adhere to regulations.

Moam secretary general Coxley Kamange told the media that they have negotiated with the police so that “any minibus operator who will choose to do his normal daily routine should be protected”.

Meanwhile, in Lilongwe and Mzuzu the situation is reported to be normal.

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Allan
Guest

Chakwera palibe chomwe angachite chanzeru chotukula ziko lino ali ndi zofowoka zambiri kuposatso amene mukummokayo

Ntumbuka Mwenecho
Guest

You stupid minibus drivers, conductors and touts, just stop driving the minibuses if you cannot maintain law and order. And if you don’t drive, you will fail to steal from owners and you will not drink n’kalabongo resulting into peace on Malawi roads…..kkkkkkkkk

Banda
Guest

Nanuso a yosefe mateyu ….nanga zaku delebeni zikugwilizana pati….kkkkkk kufuna abale aziwe kuti muli ku south africa….kusenza mabelo amabulangete.

Ntchona
Guest

This will enrich traffic cops it will encourage corruption. Traffic cops will overlook most punishable offences in pursuit of bribes. Officials have not thought this through. Our police officers have never enforced the laws efficiently they are there to fill up their pockets. Deal with that first or else the laws are a waste of time

Kent Y.G. Mphepo
Guest
Countrymen, Let me advise police that if not handled properly, this matter is likely to catch more fire as operators in other districts may want to join in the protests. There is need for the police to exercise precaution in all decisions that they make on this slippery matter. To policy makers, let me advise that time has come for the nation to stop copying policies just for the sake of doing it. I have a strong feeling that the multi-party dispensation is proving a failure to ordinary Malawians because successive governments have been experimenting too much. The UDF government… Read more »
mtete
Guest

I am sure this is a golden opportunity for Malawi Railways ( or whatever you call yourselves these days ) to introduce commuter services between Blantyre and Limbs, particularly at peak periods.

Regulations governing mini bus operations have been there all the time. The problem is enforcement and I think the traffic police are also to blame especially considering some bus owners are police officers.

chisomo
Guest

you need to grow up some of you. mukulira za kundende instead of thinking kuti one wachibale wanu azamwalira pangozi becoz of these fools of minibuses not following regulations. Thats a good move. bravo!!!!! mmalo mo sangala kuti atleast road accidents will be reduced. amisala inu eti

Chimunthu
Guest
Malawi desperately needs a proper transport system in the form of buses and trains. Minibuses are an absolute menace on the roads and they clog up city and town centres. Apart from being unsafe and dangerous, how many of their drivers have actually passed their driving test without bribing the examiner? Good roads and a well regulated transport system are an essential piece of infra-structure necessary for Malawi to progress. Politicians need to get their act together and do something about the transport system in Malawi. Of course it doesn’t affect them as they are driven around in big, fancy… Read more »
Mzika Yeni Yeni
Guest
Inu Abale, there was time when similar issue came up again in Nyasatimes. I replied that the stupid move came with Bakili Muluzi where he liberalized business operations. Ndiye ma MP ndi ambiri a mijomba bought minibuses. These are the people samva malamulo because this president messed up everything. In Zimbabwe, in 2005 this minibus nonsense happened , but the MP of the City Constituency moved the Parliament and Comrade Mugabe ordered ZUPCO to order 15 Seat Minibuses. to ply in Town. These nonsense guys were kicked out. Zomwezi ma MP ku Malawi small minibuses business ndi Mbuli za mijombazi.… Read more »
Sage Phiri
Guest
Who is protesting? Mini bus owners or mini bus operators(drivers, conductors, touts)? If its operators, just leave them like that, they will return to work within five days – those chaps live from hand to mouth, they don’t sustain their expensive and reckless lifestyles from their wages. If its owners, call them to a round table and let them propose measures that will ensure commuters safety and comfort, and of course instill discipline in their workforce. Its only President Bingu who knew how to treat these guys right…..ignored them. In two days, they were back on the road with no… Read more »
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