Slowness by government in creating job opportunity to its citizenry, has virtually forced some vulnerable individuals to “just” delve into bicycle cycling trade widely known as “Kabaza” by carrying passengers “to” and “fro” on a small fee, as means of survival.
Government has since confirmed their existence saying mechanism measures are already in place on how best “these” commercial bicycle riders could be assisted.
Chisomo Banda 28, of Chidothi village Traditional Authority (T/A) Chiwere in Dowa district, told LINA in an interview he thought of engaging himself into such “strange” small scale income generating exercise, after several times he failed to secure a formal employment.
Said Chisomo “Many times, I have been trying to look for a job but couldn’t get one. Even with my sound secondary education could still not offer me a job. So, with a little bit of frustrations, I then just thought of doing this business.”
Chisomo, who is a member of St Anthony Kabaza Association situated at Nsungwi market in Lilongwe, said the business has improved his economic status as he has managed to build a modern house at his home village. Adding that he has also opened a bank account among other tangible achievements, in the two year he has been in Kabaza trade.
He explained that on a good business day one is able to generate K4000 (8 dollars). He went on to say that some Kabaza operators have four or five bicycles who also in turn employ others, thereby in the process creating jobs for many more people.
Chairman of Mtandile Kabaza Association in the seat of the Malawi’s Capital City Lilongwe, Juma Kawinga echoed Chisomo Banda’s sentiments saying the Kabaza, small in nature though, is a vibrant business.
Said Kawinga” The beauty of this business, is that customers are always handy. Especially, when one is having permanent and reliable customers such that through phones, they often summons you to provide them a service?”
Juma 32, who hails from M’manga village Traditional Authority Kalembo in Balaka district (southern part of Malawi), described Kabaza trade as “somehow” lucrative.
“ I started Kabaza in 2007. And now, I am able to support my family and other extended relations. All is made possible because of this job”
However, on the negative side of Kabaza Kawinga, cited rough and tempered customers who he said are usually difficult to honor their payment. Adding also that some commercial sex workers mostly opts for sexual relationship in exchange for payment as some of the stumbling blocks to the trade.
Kawinga did not mince saying that another threatening element to the sustenance of Kabaza trade is government intentions to introduce a tax.
Said Kawinga “ At one point government through police approached us saying that its high time we started paying tax amounting to K16000 (32 dollar) per every six months. But we protested and eventually rejected it.”
“To our understanding this move we feel lacks legal procedures, but also we perceived such motives behind killing our young and small industry. Infact we are not against paying tax, but government should atleast come up with good and convincing strategies in doing this rather than ambushing us”
He therefore asked government to economically support them by among other factors providing them with soft loans so that they are able to boost their business.
Joseph Chinkhadze a customer commended Kabaza operators saying the trade has “somehow” managed to mitigate transport problems in the country.
“ While I hailed the establishment of this trade, let me also say that another advantage with Kabaza transport is that unlike minibuses, a customer is able to be escorted to the destination of his or her choice individually. And in some instances they (customers) are dropped at their respective doorsteps. This is both very encouraging and commendable”
In a telephone interview with LINA, Labour Minister Henry Mussa, offered words of encouragement saying the DPP-led government under what he termed transformational leadership of Professor Arthur Peter Mutharika has put in place a program targeting both the formal and informal workers that include Kabaza operators.
“What we are talking about now is skills development. We need to teach each one of these how to manage their own lives interms of sources of income, through development and self employment.”
“Others will be absorbed into the labour market so on and so forth. Every one of those shall have a job formally organized. We are working very closely to see how best they equally live a decent life, a life that has a source of income.”
On tax introduction Mussa said government is still pondering on the issue and that, it will soon make its stand known so that the matter in question becomes legally binded.
However, Mussa declined to shed more light as to whether government will be able to financially empower through loans the Kabaza operators as per their request.
In what could be seen as a direct imitation of the Nigeria as well as Kenya’s “matatu” style, former State President Joyce Banda in an attempt to woo voters in the last year’s 2014 elections, used government coffers to purchasing undisclosed number of motorbikes in the name of boosting the Kabaza business. Unfortunately, the move yielded no results as it got marred by heavy political interference with the alleged Peoples Party-(PP) cadres grabbing the “whole” exercise thereby making the seemingly “pilot project” a flop.
Currently, the Kabaza trade has spilled-over almost all corners of Malawi, a development that signifies its seriousness.
In some parts of Malawi the trade is also known as Sacramento, Zobanduka as well as Dampa. The trade came into existence some few years ago.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :