Minibus owners threaten Blantyre City Council

The Minibus Owners Association of Malawi (MOAM) has warned Blantyre City Council (BCC) of undisclosed consequences following its decision to go ahead with subcontracting operations of the Limbe Bus Depot.

Nyasa Times investigations have revealed that BCC has for the past three months been in talks with Soche Tours Lodge on take over procedures of the bus terminal and the deal has formally been sealed by the two entities.

BCC handed over management of Limbe Bus Depot to Soche Tours Lodge on Thursday, March 1, a development that has irked MOAM members who claim the process was flawed because it lacked consultations.

MOAM alleges that the move is just aimed at enriching a few BCC individuals and not to improve revenue collection of the council.

Minibus rank

Soche Tourist Lodge has also been running traffic management in Limbe Central Business District (CBD) for over a year now.

Speaking to Nyasa Times just after BCC handed over the depot, one of the MOAM senior officials said they feel cheated and will fight the move.

“We have been watching events unfold and our lawyers are abreast of the move. Certainly, if they [BCC] think they have been smart, they have not,” said our MOAM source on condition of anonymity saying the issue was under discussion.

He said MOAM as one of the long time stakeholders in the council’s bus depots and terminals and main users of the areas feel sidelined in the process.

The source claimed for over a decade MOAM and the council in conjunction with traffic police, road safety council, road traffic directorate, the business community and the passengers’ welfare association, among other stakeholders, have collectively been formulating plans for the depots and it was surprising to notice that the council has this time ignored all the stakeholders.

“I can foresee chaos here [Limbe Bus Depot]. Money has changed hands and someone will pay dearly for this,” alleged the source.

A minibus driver for Paseli Minibus said he has been informed that among others, MOAM plans to influence its members to boycott the depot.

Meanwhile, Nyasa Times has information that MOAM has reported the matter to the Anti Corruption Bureau (ACB) and Office of Director of Public Procurement (ODPP) to investigate a Mr Mzumara, proprietor of Soche Tourist Lodge and Alfred Chanza, BCC Director of Administration over the subcontracting issue.

A BCC source working at Limbe Bus Depot told Nyasa Times, the issue has raised a lot of eye brows “and elements of high-profile corruption cannot be ruled out.”

“Imagine BCC created a new department of commerce which is supposed to be handling the issue but then it is done without any of their officers’ input and instead it is being handled directly by the director of administration, don’t you think something is not adding up to here?” said the source.

Initially, the management of the depot was under the directorate of finance.

According to Nyasa Times investigations, BCC collects K50 on every minibus getting out of the depot, and K500 from big buses. And for every night a minibus spends inside the depot, a K 500 is collected while buses pay K1000.

According to our source, the council is supposed to be collecting more than K 250 000 per week but usually it fails to hit the figure because of corruption.

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