Transport and Public Works Deputy Minister Nancy Mdooko has asked transport operators to adhere to the 60 percent passenger carrying capacity restriction as gazetted in Public Rules 2020.
Mdooko says, in a statement released on Tuesday, that no rule has changed despite transport operators protesting the new seating-capacity rules.
On Tuesday, some minibus drivers and conductors in Lilongwe and Blantyre cities took to the streets to force the government to allow them to carry three passengers per seat, which is against Covid preventive measures.
However, Mdooko said, despite the protests, the passenger-carrying capacity remains the same, with passengers required to put on masks, wash hands frequently or use hand sanitiser.
“Any excess passenger in public service vehicles shall be removed forthwith. This is to confirm that no Covid regulation has changed. All regulations will be enforced accordingly,” the statement reads.
She warned that failure to adhere to the rules would attract a fine of K100,000 and imprisonment for three months at the same time revoking licences and permits.
Central Region Minibus Owners Association of Malawi Vice Chairperson Heirman Msowoya said minibus operators were not against the rules but they wanted the government to consider reducing prices of fuel as they cannot sustain their business with reduced passenger capacity.
“What we want is for the government to consider reducing fuel prices. We will continue to meet with them. The key indicator for our business is the fuel price; due to reduced capacity, we are losing a lot of money,” he said.
Msowoya said the association would continue operating while contact and dialogue were being pursued.