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Drivers, police standoff as strike is called off

DISCUSSION TIME—Police and truck drivers in Lilongwe Wednesday

Truck drivers and government officials Wednesday reached a consensus after a day-long standoff between police and the drivers, who wanted to demonstrate at Kanengo in Lilongwe City.

The truck drivers raised a number of grievances they want to be addressed by the government.

Professional Drivers Union Chairperson Major Mkandawire said while some drivers were trying to demonstrate, he and other drivers were locked in a meeting with concerned ministries at Capital Hill.

“What remains is for us to sign the Memorandum of Understanding but a consensus has been reached,” Mkandawire said.

The resolutions will be effected by August 1 this year, he said.

Apart from Professional Drivers Union, Professional Truck Drivers Union (PTDU) also has its grievances.

“Our fellow drivers are jobless because truck owners are not getting contracts,” said PTDU General Secretary Mphatso Mollen.

He added that they also want to renew their licences in all administrative regions of the country, and not just Lilongwe, as is the case at present.

Ministry of Transport spokesperson Andrew Mthiko said the two sides had, indeed, reached a consensus.

Among other demands, the drivers want the cost of an express passport to be reduced from K180,000 to K60,000, salaries for trans-border drivers to be increased to K140,000 while those operating within the country should be getting not less than K100,000 monthly.

The drivers also claim that some of them are still receiving K30,000 as monthly salary.

The drivers also want to be getting free Covid certificates when crossing borders.

They were further pressing the government to award 80 percent of transportation contracts to Malawian transporters.

At Kanengo Wednesday, there was a standoff between police and truck drivers when the police blocked the drivers from holding demonstrations.

The truck drivers wanted to protest by stopping heavy-duty vehicles from using the road until the government addressed their grievances.

Police officers at the scene said the drivers did not seek permission from authorities to demonstrate.

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