Controversy surrounds mini bus touts in Malawi

Despite government’s efforts to remove minibus and bus touts, locally known as ‘call boys’, from the country’s streets, the menaces to society continue to operate at bus stops across the country in large numbers.

Touts who solicit passengers continue to plague the various minibus parks in the city much to the distaste of the travelling public.

A few years ago, Government banned bus touts from plying their trade on the country’s streets since they were observed to be nuisances creating unnecessary tension demanding money from mini bus operators despite there not being a proper agreement between the two.

A number of call boys were previously arrested and charged for touting, the ‘extortioners’have found their way back on the streets demanding money from mini bus and bus operators for their questionable jobs.

A snap survey in Blantyre revealed that the call boys are present at main bus deports across the Commercial City including those in townships and are paid money amounting the bus fare of a single passenger once the bus is full.

Commenting on the development in an interview, Minibus Owners Association of Malawi (MOAM) General Secretary, CoxleyKamange said as the owners of the mini busses, they do not recognize the work of the minibus callboys.

“We are the ones who asked the government to enact a law so that these people should not be found in our loading premises since most of them end up stealing, harassing passengers as well as forcing some passengers to board busses which are not of their choice,” he said.

Kamange said the minibus drivers and conductors are forced to pay the touters because they threaten them and also overpower them when they do not comply, a thing which is pure day light robbery.

He said in the past MOAM tried to involve the police in getting rid of the call boys butthis proved futile because once arrested and taken to court, the touters were just fined and soon they were back on the streets touting again.

National Police Public Relations Officer (PRO), James Kadadzera said  the Police are there to arrest the minibus callboys but the only problem which sees them returning on the streets are the fines attached to the charges of touting which are lenient and do not have a custodial sentence.

He said currently the touters are not afraid to be arrested due to the lenient fines they receive once arrested hence their being back on the streets.

The National Police PRO said they wouldcontinue their duty as law enforcers and continue arresting the call boys in order to maintain peace and order on the streets of Malawi.

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4 years ago

Tikonza a MCP zimenezo tikatenga boma. Osadandaula. Ngati mukufuna zinthu zisinthe zavotereni Congress basi. Boma lodziwa chomwe likuchita. Osakhala a nalikata (asakhwi) alipowa.

chaione wawo
4 years ago

The Police in Malawi is never serious on any issues. As I comment, we recently saw them enforcing the three passengers per seat in minibuses. It happened just for a week or so and it has completely stopped. about the touts I recall there was a period they really were arresting them but as I comment it could be some years gone without any new arrest. The other challenge is that out bus and minibus terminals provide a heaven environment for the touts. Take the LL terminal for example. I wonder if we have a city assembly. I wonder if… Read more »

Lt. Fraser Chakhaza
4 years ago

With due respect bwana Kadadzera, continuing arresting the touts will not solve this problem. I have never seen police arrresting touts anywhere. May be if that was done, it was only after an order was made to do so but to say that police on daily basis are arresting touts in any mini bus terminus is being economical with the truth. I have seen police officers having a chat with touts or indeed ask cash for airtime/lunch from the touts at Limbe mini bus terminus commonly known as “pafumbi”. We need a lasting solution. One way would be to legalize… Read more »

Elder Sage I
Elder Sage I
4 years ago

Legalizing touting? That’s absolute madness.
Just give them something else useful to do….train them at the technical colleges, most of them are youthful, anyway.
Then reorganize our bus terminals. Each route to have a designated passenger queuing point – nobody will need these nuisances again, even those from remotest villages. Just at South Africa they successfully did that more than a decade ago, and they are not regretting in any way.

Dipipi wa Yudiefu
Dipipi wa Yudiefu
4 years ago

If there is anything I hate about travelling in Malawi (especially with public transport-buses and minibuses) is touts (if travelling on private vehicle, masikini). Touts are very rude. If you don’t do what they want they will pour all sorts of insults on you and finally still force you to accept their wish. Cadets come from there. Mobilization of party meetings in towns is done by them so, effectively they are friends of party gurus. They are always seen as voters for ruling for a party in power. They are very powerful. After all, where do the majority of them… Read more »

4 years ago

The adverse part of removing them from the street is “increasing the crime rate in our cities” because urban poverty is also a major problem in Malawi. They should be trained in small-scale businesses management and small financial capital outlay can be given to them for survival in towns and cities. Politicians use them when they are visiting our towns/cities, give party clothes/t-shirts to wear, buy them beers to tout for them. But, honestly, anthuwa amabowa kwambiri, just like when vendors were in the streets in those bad days.

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