Government has turned down calls from the Parliamentary Committee on Transport to ban small passenger vehicles, particularly Nissan Vanettes and Mazda Bongos, from operating on the country’s roads.
Last month, the committee asked government to ban the vehicles because such vehicles were designed to carry goods and not people. The committee further bemoaned the manner in which passengers are ‘packed’ in the minibuses.
In an interview with The Daily Times on Monday, Minister of Transport, Malison Ndau, said his ministry cannot ban the minibuses because such an action would bring more problems.
“The immediate action is not to ban because we should know that those people running the minibuses, earn a living through that. If we say, let us ban them right away, where do we think they will get their earning from? They should give us some time to sit down with the Minibus Owners Association of Malawi,” said Ndau.
The minister further said the committee was acting ‘emotionally’ as it did not properly consult his ministry on the issue.
“The Parliamentary committee just visited our road traffic offices and requested that the minibuses should be banned without even following proper procedures or informing us as a ministry. I think that is not a way of doing things. That is an emotional action,” added Ndau.
He, however, admitted that his ministry is aware of the problems that such minibuses are causing, citing frequent road accidents as an example.
Meanwhile, some regular minibus passengers are in support of the ban, saying they will help in improving the standards.
“The minibuses are already small but they force four people to squeeze on a chair that would normally accommodate three people. We are treated like we don’t pay,” complained Agnes Botolo, a Blantyre resident.
Others think banning the minibuses would only increase the pressure on the fewer minibuses that will be allowed to operate.
“The solution is for the minibuses to carry the normal number of people and not pack them like bags of potatoes. Traffic officers should also be serious because drivers have a tendency of dropping some passengers once they see that there is a checkpoint ahead, once the vehicle passes that point, the people who disembarked on the other side, board the bus again”, observed Gilbert Potani, another Blantyre resident.
Following the Parliamentary Committee’s appeal, about three weeks ago, Minibus Owners Association of Malawi (Moam) wrote the committee, demanding a detailed report about the calls to ban the minibuses.
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