Minibus Owners Association of Malawi (MOAM) hasagreed to reduce passengers capacity to two people per sit in a quest to protect citizens from corona virus pandemic.
MOAM together with officials from road traffic made the resolution on Thursday during a meeting aimed at finding ways of protecting passengers from the deadly virus despite the country not registering a single case.
MOAM National Chairperson Felix Mbonekera said effective 1st April this year all minibuses will be carrying two passengers per seat.
“Together with road traffic directorate, we have instituted a task force which will be doing spot check in the roads to ensure that all the minibuses which have sealed windows at the back should be open and on sitting capacity we have agreed to minimize only for this period of Covid-19.
“Each minibus should carry two people per sit whichmeans that we have removed one passenger per sit, from there some officials from MOAM and traffic police will help us in enforcing the recommendations,” he said.
Mbonekera indicated that strict measures have been put in place to make sure that the new recommendationsare fully followed by drivers.Failure by drivers to adhere to the recommendationswill risk them losing their licenses and the vehicle road permit.
However, one minibus driver in Blantyre using Ndirande to Blantyre Central Business District route,James Jali, expressed concern that the fear of COVID-19 has impacted businesses negatively with passengers opting to walk in fear of contracting the virus.
“We are losing a lot of money with this pandemic because people nowadays prefer walking by foot in fear of contracting coronavirus in minibuses due to congestion,” he said.On the recommendation to follow two passengers per seat instituted by the taskforce as one way of ensuring safety of passengers, Jali said they will comply for the betterment of people despite lookingfor money.
“Come 1st April 2020 there is need for minibus operators to follow what the task force is saying because when am hearing of corona virus on radios it seems it’s a deadly disease. We want money yes but we should also consider our lives and that of ourpassengers,” Jali said.
Currently, no Coronavirus case has been confirmed in Malawi despite the diseases registering in some neighboring countries.