The high sales rejection rate in the auction is not only affecting farmers but also the transport industry. James Kalowa from Machinga complained;” the low demand for tobacco at the Auctions is not only affecting farmers income but it is also having serious effects to transporters. When a truck is parked at a field office of the Tobacco Association of Malawi (TAMA) overnight, farmers are charged a parking fee for the vehicle…” The treatment is different when a loaded truck is parked at Maone Park. James explained;” when we park the trucks at Maone to wait for off-loading due to slow sales at the auction, TAMA the transporters do not charge storage fee to TAMA.” He felt this was unfair because it is not the fault of the transporter not to off-load on time.
James went on to complain; “truck owners refuse to pay some of the drivers after a month has passed before off-loading their trucks. The excuse is often that the drivers did not use the truck during the month. Truck Assistants receive worse treatment. Garnet Chisale explained “my boss does not provide me with money for food, drinking water and there are no toilet facilities at Maone Park”. We sleep there without food and end up stealing maize, sugarcane and cassava from other people’s gardens in the surrounding areas. Garnet lamented; “there are times when thieves invade the park at night to steal batteries, tyres and axles”. This is because TAMA has not made any arrangements with the Police to guard the area.
Henry Chiuta owner of one of the trucks complained; “springs for the trucks are getting damaged for staying loaded for a month before off-loading”. Even some trucks end up having flat tyres. These are costs TAMA does not take into consideration. James agreed;” it is true that springs for most of the trucks do not last long. They break very easily when the trucks travel on bumpy dirty roads”. Henry continued to complain;” if there more jobs, my truck should not have been involved in tobacco transportation”
While farmers are crying to sale more bales, transporters and their employees are suffering in silence. This is because TAMA is more interested in offering tobacco to buyers. There is need for government to intervene by ensuring that the parking yard at Maone has toilets and guarded by Police.