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We need more John Kapitos

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In matters concerning the services Malawians receive in the country, Consumer Association of Malawi’s Executive Director, John Kapito appears to be the lone ranger in a battle that calls for a whole battalion.

The country is streaked with poor service provision that is literally derailing the quality of life of its citizens. I recently lamented about staying in the ‘commercial city’ of Malawi with no water and no electricity hours on end topped with poor mobile network and internet connections.

The above mentioned factors are bad for business and they are detrimental to people’s healthy wellbeing. Because of these factors, citizens are using more money and more resources just to get by and ‘survive’ instead of investing, saving and pouring them into other development endeavours.

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These major service providers have set a bad example for other companies and organisations that reckon poor service provision is a norm in Malawi and continue to provide mediocre services for Malawians.

Our luxury coach service providers are painfully inconsistent that some people have reached the point of relying on the informal bus service providers to get to their destinations. Many a time customers have been ripped off; paying close to K10 000 only to be offered a bus and a service worth K2500, and that is if they even get to their destination on time.

Lodges and mini hotels country wide would advertise something else and offer something else. Most of these places fail to be truthful about very basic and straightforward things; for instance, the availability of hot water. Customers often have a rude awakening after they have already paid and later want to take a hot shower. Unfortunately, most of the time, neither a refund nor a discount is offered.

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The list of the poor services available country wide is endless; we can blame the service providers but at the same time we are also to blame. Why do we allow and tolerate poor service provision? Where does the fear to demand better services come from?

The least most would do is resort to a rant on social media or to their friends and family without actually addressing the people who are providing the poor service. While John Kapito will make sure his voice is heard, take action and consistently call for improvement, most of us will rather seat it out and wait for someone to work wonders on our behalf.

This is the case with rather simple things as well. For instance, it still baffles me that a bus full of customers- who are paying for the service- perpetually fails to stand up against a driver and a conductor of a minibus squashing them like sacks of potatoes. These clearly indicates how complacent most of us are about the services we receive.

Why are buses still carrying four people per row and while are people still allowing this demeaning tendency to continue? It may seem like a simple thing, but it painfully reflects the depth of acceptance of mediocre services that, as a country, we are accustomed to.

The Electricity Supply Corporation on Malawi has been providing electricity to the country for years. And this is not even the whole country, but just a small fraction of it. Any organisation has to project its growth and future plans along with the challenges that will come along the way.

However, Escom has been giving the same excuses for years. And there are a few of us that will actually do whatever it takes to take Escom to task. Otherwise it will be John Kapito at the frontline, again, with his lone battle sword waging a war against poor services for millions of Malawians.

I wonder how the country will forge forward with the magnitude of blackouts that are shadowing the industry in the country. Why is power generation not being prioritized? In this day and age electricity supply is a matter of no compromise. How do we boost industrialization at this rate? How do we become and export based country at this rate? How do we promote international trade and investment at this rate?

As a country we have the potential but we lack the vision and the discipline. Revenue is collected in the country but it is mismanaged. Funds are acquired from various stake holders but they are embezzled. Intellectuals are there, but they remain complacent. We need more people who fight for quality service provision and who fight for the projects the country has.

I rest my case.

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