Malawians operating under the banner of Professional Truck Drivers Association (PTDA) on Wednesday started an industrial action whose chief aim is to force powers-that-be to give contracts of ferrying fuel into the country to locals, and not foreigners.
The drivers have since blocked the entry of any tanker bringing fuel into Malawi at the Songwe Border, until their demand is addressed by the Tonse administration.
Mphatso Moleni, the association’s secretary general, said in a telephone interview with Nyasa Times said the fact that government is awarding contracts to foreigners is making them suffer.
He said their bosses [local tanker owners] pay exorbitant taxes and that the effect trickles down to them as they get meagre salaries and benefits.
“We have tried to talk with the Tonse alliance government to give such contracts to local business owners and be fair on taxes but this has been to no avail.
“Foreign truck drivers who bring fuel into the country are enjoying. They receive allowances, big salaries while we suffer as we don’t have any fuel to bring in as our bosses are afraid of the taxes. Now what we want is that government should cancel such contracts that are impacting negatively on us,” he said.
According to Moleni, they will continue blocking the Songwe Border to deny fuel tankers entry until the issue is resolved.
He warned the blocking would spread to other borders in the country.
“Maybe government will be using other means of bringing in fuel, but as far as we are not assisted, we will continue detaining the tankers at borders,” said Moleni.
Energy minister, Newton Kambala, said his ministry in collaboration with National Oil Company of Malawi (NOCMA) already invited the concerned parties to a round-table discussion on Wednesday.
Kambala, however, refused to disclose the outcome of the discussions saying NOCMA was in a position to do so.
But NOCMA spokesperson, Telephorus Chingwenembe, denied to disclose what had transpired during their discussions.
The development according to social commentator Jackson Msiska will affect the country’s economy if the parties fail to solve their differences as soon as possible.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :