By Wezzie Gausi:
Commuters have complained about the hike of bus fare which has been effected Wednesday.
The raise has come about due to restrictions of the number of passengers per minibus as a safety measure to prevent Covid-19.
According to one passenger, Delia Mazinga, who is a businesswoman from Mponela, the hike has come as a big blow as businesses are already struggling in the country because of political uncertainty and fear of the spread of corona virus which has forced people to stay and home.
“The way things are in this country, there is no justification that bus fare should keep on going up. We understand that we do not need to be congested, but the minibus fare hike is uncalled for.
“Take, for example, in the past, we used to pay K1, 000 from Mponela to Lilongwe; but now the fare has been raised to K2, 000 which means the increment is hundred percent which is very huge for people to manage with economy,” Mazinga said.
One of minibus drivers, Duncan Gama, said since the hike has been effected by Minibus Association of Malawi, minibus operators have no choice but to hike the fare.
Gama said they know how this will affect their daily business as most people would resort to walking or finding other means to travel.
“The hike has not only affected passengers but even the conductors have been affected. With the reduction in the sitting capacity, it means minibuses will be moving around without conductors who also depend on the same job for their daily needs.
“Our plea is for the government to reconsider on [fuel price] reduction and also talk to minibus owners on how to meet half way,” Gama said.
Vice chairman for Central Region Minibus Association of Malawi Heirman Msowoya, said they have reached at the decision of hiking bus fares because the government has not reduced fuel price as per the association’s request.
Msowoya said they had an interface with the Road Traffic Department where they discussed issues to do with corona.
“During our meeting, we suggested that the government should consider reducing the prices of fuel but we were told that it would not be possible as there are factors to consider.
“And knowing that by reducing the number of passengers, we will not be making profits, we thought it wise to raise the bus fare as what we are doing is business where we need to make profits. So with two passengers per seat, we have no choice but to raise the fare,” Msowoya said.