Border shutdown scares businesses
Planned closure of airports and border posts by the Human Rights Defenders Coalition (HRDC) has brought panic among airline companies and cross-body transport operators who fear a negative impact on their businesses.
In its pursuit for the resignation of Malawi Electoral Commission (Mec) Chairperson, Justice Jane Ansah, on Tuesday, HRDC announced its intention to shut down the country’s border posts and airports for five days from August 26.
Since May 21 elections results were announced on May 27, the business operating environment has been shaky, largely due to the after-effects of the polls.
The situation is already causing panic among travellers.
Currently, five airlines are operating in the country including Malawian Airlines, South African Airways (SAA), Ethiopian Airlines, Kenya Airways, and Ulendo Air link while other cargo airplanes fly into the country from time to time.
Officials from Malawian Airlines, Kenya Airways and SAA say they are waiting for official communication from the Civil Aviation Department on the same.
Some cross-border transporters say the planned demonstrations would halt operations.
Andrew Mwadala, a Manager at one of the international busses in Blantyre, said the move would affect business.
Intercape Regional Manager, Joseph Dziwani, said in an interview that transporters were panicking.
“We have also to consider the safety of our customers and our properties. If they will close the borders, then we will not operate,” Dziwani said.
Transport and Public Works Minister, Ralph Jooma, said, so far, there was no intention to stop operations of the airports and border posts.
He said the ministry was engaging stakeholders on the best way of handling the situation.
“Let me say that, as a ministry, we are working very closely with both the [Office of the President and Cabinet] OPC and the Aviation security committee which include police, army and airlines, among others, to come up with proper remedial measures to safeguard airports operations against any form of criminal elements,” Jooma said.
While businesses have not been spared from election fever in past general elections, this year, the time span is elongated.
Opposition political parties, Malawi Congress Party and UTM, are disputing election results in court.