The Minibus Owners Association of Malawi (MOAM) has strongly condemned and disassociated itself from the violence perpetrated by some minibus drivers and conductors in Blantyre on Friday morning.
The drivers and conductors took to the streets to demonstrate their reservations against the new Road Traffic Regulations which imposes heavy fines on some offences like overloading and driving while drunk.
The new regulations follow a spate of road accidents which have seen over 950 lives lost in the past 5 months.
MOAM Secretary General Coxley Kamange during a news conference in Blantyre which was also attended by Blantyre vendors and other security stakeholders, said the protest was by other interest groups and not his body.
“We are not in support of the fracas. In fact we have incurred huge losses by not plying on the roads today,” said Kamange.
He, however denied reports that the drivers and conductors were being used by some bodies with a hidden agenda, but suspected other interest groups to have taken advantage of the protest to incite riots.
“Our operations and profits depend on the tranquility and the stability of the economy, so all those rumours that we are behind it are not true,” Kamange said.
Joining Kamange during the briefing was chairperson for Blantyre vendors Frank John Malunga who warned his members against taking part in the riots.
“The city was brought to a standstill today and any sane vendor would know the amount of loses we have incurred today. There is no way we can wish this scenario to continue. We are against this and we condemn it in the strongest terms,” said the visibly angry Malunga.
Many people have condemned the act which has seen almost four Police units torched.
One minibus operator Peter Mvalo who has been in the trade for the past doing 12 years is supporting the action taken by Traffic officials, saying apart from saving lives of Malawians it will help their vehicles to be durable and avoid un necessary wear and tear.
“Some of us obtained loans to have these buses so there is no way my driver can tell me what to do with my bus. We will do business tomorrow as long as police provides security on the roads,” said Mvalo.
Meanwhile, Police in Blantyre have arrested 33 people in connection with the fracas.
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