Owners, drivers and conductors of 80 passenger minibuses that the police impounded on Wednesday and Thursday burnt old tyres and blocked the Kenyatta Drive in Limbe in protest against police’s action.
The minibuses, which belong to different businesspersons within Blantyre and other surrounding districts, were impounded for offences ranging from contravening road service payments, failing to comply with road traffic rules and inadequate documentation.
All the 80 minibuses are currently being held at Police Training School (PTS) compound awaiting the owners to pay the fines.
The entire process police carried out did not go down well with minibus owners and drivers who argued that it was making them lose out on potential business.
The irate operators chanted anti-police songs, describing the exercise as brutal and demanded the removal of some traffic officers, especially at Limbe Police Station, whom they branded as corrupt.
The disgruntled minibus owners and drivers blocked the Kenyatta drive, from Kanjedza roundabout to Limbe Market using stones and burning car tyres, causing traffic jam in the process.
“Today, we have approached the police to pay the fines they are claiming for the offence we have committed. We have been here [PTS] since early in the morning up to now [around mid-day] without being attended to.
“The angry scenes you see on the roads are a result of frustration with police actions prohibiting us to conduct our business in the normal way,” said Yusuf Jali, one of the minibus owners.
Jali claimed that the police were charging exorbitant fines ranging from K10, 000 going upwards for minor offences that attract K5, 000 or less.
A minibus driver, Simplex Maluwa, accused the police of faking offences.
But Spokesperson for Southern Region Police, James Kadadzera, dismissed the allegations, claiming they were baseless.
“As you know, we are approaching Christmas festival. What we want as police is to ensure that passengers are travelling in roadworthy vehicles. Our primary goal is to reduce road accidents,” Kadadzera said.
He said the exercise will be ongoing to make sure that all drivers have valid driving licences.
He described the exercise as a strategic action aimed at obtaining tangible results within a short period.
“When traffic officers are on the road, they impound each and every vehicle with a bookable offence; most of the minibuses have those offences. You can also agree with me that members of the general public have been expressing dissatisfaction with the way minibus drivers are treating them …so as police, we are just responding to the same,” Kadadzera explained.
Meanwhile, police have managed to calm the situation by directing them to file their complaints at PTS where their minibuses are being kept
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