Passengers Welfare Association of Malawi (PAWA) has expressed concern over the continued practice by passenger service vehicle operators who carry fuel on board, saying the practice put passengers’ lives at risk.
PAWA President Don Napuwa expressed the concern in an interview with Malawi News Agency (MANA) on Wednesday following an increase in the malpractice by minibus operators despite it being illegal.
“This is an old problem that we have had. At one point, the police were searching the minibuses and I don’t know why they have stopped.
“The Traffic Act does not allow passenger service vehicles to carry fuel on board because it’s hazardous to human health. We don’t condone the practice and we are against it,” he said.
Napuwa further said the practice is increasingly becoming inconvenient to passengers as mini buses run out of fuel while in transit.
“This malpractice does not help anybody. It delays passengers as most of the times, when mini buses run out of fuel, the operators run to the nearest filling station to buy fuel leaving passengers behind,” he added.
He, therefore, asked the police to intensify their effort if the practice is to be stopped.
“As the body [PAWA], we can only speak because we don’t have the powers to stop this malpractice but it’s for the police to do something because they are aware of the problem and they have the structures,” he said.
National Police Spokesperson James Kadadzera said the police have intensified their effort in order to stop the practice.
“It’s illegal to carry passengers along with fuel in plastic jelly canes or anything which was not designed to carry fuel because these may explode and kill passengers.
“This practice is becoming common and we will arrest any minibus operator found in possession of fuel while having passengers on board,
“Our officers will continue to search mini busses at every check point and on the road to ensure that this is stopped,” he said.
Kadadzera also appealed to filling station operators to assist the police in curbing the practice through adherence to safety rules.
Malawi Energy Regulatory Authority (MERA) Chief Executive Director Collins Magalasi said the energy regulating body will revoke any license of any filling station that will be found selling fuel in plastic jelly canes to minibus operators.
“Every filling station operates under a license and among the conditions is that the filling station must observe safety. So a filling station is not supposed so sell fuel in a facility which is unsafe. If found, they are in breach of that condition, so we penalize them or revoke the license,” he said.