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Truck drivers give government 14-day ultimatum

DISCUSSION TIME—Police and truck drivers in Lilongwe Wednesday

The country’s truck drivers, under the banners of Professional Drivers Union and Truck Drivers Association, have given the government up to September 27 this year to address their problems or else they will hold a nationwide strike.

They say they are not satisfied that the government has failed to implement resolutions reached during a meeting with six Cabinet ministers and about 14 principal secretaries on July 14 this year.

However, Transport Deputy Minister Nancy Chaola Mdooko Sunday said the government had started addressing the drivers’ concerns.

The drivers, through their lawyer Sylvester Ayuba James, asked the government to reduce the cost of their express passport from K180,000 to K60,000 effective August 1 2021.

The meeting also agreed that government would enforce minimum salaries for the drivers at K140,000 per month for trans-border drivers and K100,000 per month for those operating within the country.

The meeting also agreed that Covid certificates for drivers should be free effective August 1 2021.

According to the truck drivers, top government officials present during the July 14 meeting included Homeland Security Minister Richard Chimwendo Banda, Trade Minister Sosten Gwengwe, former Energy minister Newton Kambala, Civic Education and National Unity Minister Timothy Mtambo, Deputy Minister of Health Chrissy Kalamula Kanyasho and Deputy Transport MinisterNancy Chaola Mdooko.

James said on Saturday that they would not entertain any more calls for a meeting.

“We have come to a point where we are convinced that the government doesn’t want to help, although the concerns fall within their jurisdiction to take care of.

“And for that reason, the only option we have is to hold nationwide demonstrations to make a point and make it very clear that we will not go back to work until these issues are addressed because they go to the very core of a good working environment and good labour practices that the government must enforce,” James said.

Sunday, Mdooko said the concerns raised by the drivers touched on a number of ministries and that, as such, each ministry looked at issues within its jurisdiction.

She said the Ministry of Transport looked at the issue of the PrDP to ensure that the drivers no longer go for examinations when in need of the service.

Mdooko said the Directorate of Road Traffic and Safety Service was coaching drivers on PrDP and that the drivers are only paying for the permit itself and not the coaching process.

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