Most Blantyre residents were forced to walk to their respective working and business places on Monday morning following a protest by minibus operators.
Minibus operators went on pushing authorities to revise a COVID-19 restriction on passenger numbers that a minibus can carry.
Minibus drivers in Blantyre city took action, as no bus was operating in the street and some buses were seen unattended in the street. Some drivers blocked roads but police officers were quick to disperse the rioting drivers.
Speaking to local media, Chifundo Kandoje, chairperson for Minibus Drivers and Conductors Association in Blantyre said that he feels that COVID-19 preventive measures by the City Council are only applying to them while other events have relaxed some of the rules.
He, therefore, emphasized that there is a need to revise some of the COVID-19 restrictions in order for the minibus operators to remain in business since fuel prices have been hiked.
Xinhua managed to speak with some drivers who parked their cars in the street as part of the strike. According to them, a recent fuel hike has caused a lot of damage to their business hence the move asking authorities to revise the current minibus capacity restriction which only allows two people per seat. Usually, the seat is sufficient for three people .
Sam Kanjiwa, a minibus driver based in Blantyre said that there is a need for authorities to consider their plea because there is nothing that they are gaining on the road since the minibus capacity is very low against the bus recommended bus fares.
“Of course authorities are trying to prioritize the safety of the citizens, but there are many alternatives that we can apply in order to ensure that safety continues, but limiting two passengers per seat is affecting us,” he said.
Blantyre commuters asked the authorities to act quickly on the matter for business to resume. Judie Tambala, based in Limbe said that the strike affected her business.
“There is a need to resolve this issue as soon as possible,” she said.
Blantyre is the largest commercial city in Malawi, despite its fast-growing development, many people depend on minibuses as their main mode of transport. Enditem