Government tussles with water transporters
The Department of Marine Services finds itself in trouble after private operators of water vessels sailing on the Nkhata Bay-Likoma route dragged it to court following its decision to limit their number of trips in a week.
The two Donald Kamwanja of Lamani Boat Transport and Mackenzie Malungo of Malungo Transport obtained an injunction from the High Court sitting in Mzuzu on March 21, 2016 challenging the decision, describing it as discriminatory.
In the affidavit, signed by lawyer George Kadzipatike of Jivason and Company, the two contend that their right to economic activity in a liberalised market as provided for in Section 29 of the Malawi Constitution has since been violated.
“What is also surprising is that the department only concentrated on the Nkhata Bay- Likoma route leaving out Senga Bay-Makanjira, Nkhata Bay- Usisya routes where MV Illala and Chambo operate but the applicants do not operate there. The applicants verily believe that they are being discriminated against,” the papers read in part.
Following the application Judge Dingiswayo Madise gave an injunction order against the Marine Department and called for inter-partes summons within seven days.
“An injunction is hereby granted restraining the respondents, their agents, servants, or whatsoever from limiting the number of trips which the applicants’ passenger vessels can make on the route in question until a further order of this court,” reads Madise’s order paper.
Senior Deputy Director in the Department of Marine Services John Mhango acknowledged receipt of the court order.
Mhango said the two which were allowed to operate on relief at a time when MV Illala was down for over three months last year alleging that they abused the rights given by failing to abide by the rules and regulations of water transport in which passengers’ safety is key.
“The two usually exceeded their carrying capacity, moving with few life-saving jackets and also malfunctioning spare engines. As such, a measure had to be put in place to ensure safety of the people without denying them access to transport on daily basis hence the re-scheduling,” Mhango explained.
“Need I mention that their empty cry for an all week schedule is because they want to reap where they did not sow? We have alternated their schedules while that of Illala and Chambo remain intact because the two vessels have already created markets for themselves.
“If anything Lamani and Malungo should do the same rather than striving to maximise profits at the expense of others,” he said.
Mhango said they will channel the issue to the Minister through the Principal Secretary before courting the Attorney General for legal advice.
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