Passengers left stranded in Blantyre as minibus drivers protest


Public transport users in Blantyre were left stranded on Christmas week Monday following minibus drivers' protests to force authorities to change their stance on the two passengers per seat rule.

Passenger woke up to a rude awakening as no minibus was plying their trade on the streets forcing them to have to walk.

Those who hitched cars were also subjected to insults and drivers who picked people were being harassed and charged K2,000 in some instances.

Roadblocks were mounted using stones while some overzealous drivers lit up fires in the middle of the road prompting the police to fire teargas in some places like Bangwe to disperse the striking drivers.

Roadblock being manned by the drivers at Kudya in Blantyre-Pictures by Pemphero Musowa

One of the disgruntled public transport users Janet Mwai said the minibus drivers and City Council should resolve their issues amicably.

“This is issue needs to be solved with cool heads other wise if you look at the grievances, they have a case and protecting the people is paramount so they need to resolve this amicably,” she said.

Mwai added the affected party is the passenger and it is not fair adding the minibus drivers themselves will have nothing to eat if they continue not to operate.

“How long can they do this because this is how they make their ends meet. if they do not stop, they will not have any food tonight."

drivers strike witnessed first-hand drivers’ reprimand of their own for picking up passengers and trying to use uncharted routes around town to maximise on the strike.

The drivers are citing an increase in fuel prices as the hurdle crippling their business.

They have called authorities ‘inconsiderate’ for allowing event organisers in arts and entertainment and football to go ahead with their activities.

Another contentious issue is the K20,000 fine which they are being penalised with when found to have broken the two passenger regulations.

With COVID-19 numbers on the rise as people going to the festive season, safety is being prioritised.