Divisions have emerged in the transportation sector where drivers under the Transport Association in Malawi (TAM) has expressed opposition to the planned strike by the Professional Drivers Union (PDU) aimed at forcing the government to fulfil what was agreed during the previous meetings.
PDU has announced the resumption of a nationwide strike from March 21 following failure by the government to address their grievances.
Briefing reporters in Lilongwe on Sunday, PDU spokesperson Mphatso Moleni said government has failed to address their grievances.
However, on Monday, members of the Transporters Association of Malawi (TAM), Road Transport Operators Association of Malawi, Women in Logistics and large scale suppliers (WOLLSS) and Truck Drivers Association held a joint press briefing in Lilongwe where they claimed that the government had fully met their demands.
TAM executive member, Elliot Mussa, wondered why PDU was planning another strike.
“We the Transport Associations in Malawi comprising: Transporters Association of Malawi (TAM), Road Transport Operators of Association (RTOA), Women in Logistics and Large Scale Supplies (WOLLSS) and Transporters Association (2016), together with the Truck Drivers Union of Malawi (TDU), would like to condemn in the strongest terms the intended strike by Professional Drivers Union (PDU) scheduled for the 21st of March 2022.
“The issues that they are stating to justify the Strike are baseless and we wish to inform the Public that the following are the facts on the ground. The drivers indeed engaged various Ministers and officials in government and resolutions were made. Of these resolutions, most issues directly affecting the drivers have been resolved,” said Mussa.
He said drivers no longer need to take an examination on renewal of their Professional Driver’s License (PrDP), all they need to do is take an eye test and pay fees for booking and the card.
Mussa said the Truck Drivers Union also confirmed that its members are being assisted accordingly.
“The truck drivers are currently getting COVID tests free of charge as long as they have a letter from the Truck Drivers Union. In addition to this, the Ministry of Health, in collaboration with NAC organized awareness workshops as well as civic education on how to manage their job during the pandemic. The TDU also received sanitizers, soap and masks to distribute to drivers. The government is currently helping truck drivers to access passports during this period. Once a new service provider for passports have been identified, 48 page passports will be availed to drivers at a concessionary rate,” he said.
On minimum wages, Mussa said government gazetted a minimum wage of K140, 000 for international truckers and K100,000 for local drivers who drive 30 tonne trucks.
There are some transporters who are not complying with the gazetted rates and the Ministry of Labour is addressing this jointly with the Truck Drivers Union.
“For these five reasons, we see no justified reason tank drivers to strike. In fact any strike that may take place is malicious and is an attack on the country,” he said.
In his remarks, Driver Association of Malawi president, Richard Jubek Phiri, said he only heard of the intended strike through the media.
Phiri said Malawi is already struggling in different aspects to have things done, especially following natural disasters so blocking the roads is tantamount to increasing disaster.
WOLLSS president Abigail Dzimadzi lamented that women become victims of strikes due to closure of roads.
Dzimadzi said this is not supposed to happen again, especially when the government has already sorted out issues.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :