By Duncan Mlanjira
Malawians have asked Malawi Posts Corporation (MPC) to employ competent drivers for its fleet of coaches, that have been involved in seriously road accidents due to what is linked to over speeding.
The first around Nkhamenya in Kasungu District late last year High claimed the life of Hosea Mologera — an Immigration Officer from Mzuzu and after the second accident that took place at Phalula, MPC temporary suspended its service inorder to implement safety standards.
MPC announced that it had engaged various stakeholders that included Road Traffic Directorate (RTD) to re-asses the buses’ safety environment and its implementing the safety recommendations to ensure that the coaches are back on the road much improved and safer.
“We would like to thank the general public for the feedback given and the patience in waiting for the upgraged the People’s Bus.
“We will soon give an update further updates including relaunch dates. We will be back sooner, better and stronger,” said MPC on its Facebook page.
The majority of people who responded to this announcement asked MPC to employ drivers who are competent and experienced.
Chisomo Seleman Banda said she used the coach service when travelling from Lilongwe in January and vowed never again to do it, saying the driver was over speeding.
She said the passengers kept advising the driver to reduce speed and that twice some passengers closer to her seat approached the driver, who seemed unperturbed with the intrusion.
And she also said the coach’s assistants were also disturbing the driver by engaging him in unnecessary conversation.
She said the driver kept swerving and he had to be advised to just stick on the middle of the road if he had problems with visibility since it was at night.
Another passenger Walusungu Prosper Chagara added voice by saying accidents happen every time whether you apply safety measures or not and grounding the buses was not a solution.
Another citizen suggested that the coaches should be installed with speed checks on the accelerator and also with speed tracking systems.
It was also suggested that the drivers should be given arrival time and no one should be allowed to arrive before the stipulated time.
“You can do all what you have done by contracting other stakeholders to assist you but the problem here is over speeding of your drivers at might,” said Saidi Misikani.
“Tell them to reduce speed and this must be a must to them. Also introduce road inspectors to check them at any place on the road to Lilongwe and Mzuzu as it was done by the old UTM and Stagecoach companies in those good years,” he said.
Vee Khwekhwerere observed that Malawian roads are not in good condition, especially the Lilongwe-Kasungu route but the MPC drivers still over-sped along this stretch.
Frank Limbani Munyembete suggested that maybe MPC should poach drivers from other bus companies who are already on the road and have the experience and are familiar with the roads on the routes that is being operated on.
Hezekiah Chipeta was positive by saying the decision to diversify is a very good business decision.
After the accident at Nkhamenya and also following continued occurrences of accidents involving big buses, some members of the general public asked if the Road Traffic Directorate should be advising the bus companies to be liaising with the Directorate whenever they are employing new bus drivers.
The advise also on social media asked that before they are employed, the Directorate should be vetting the drivers licences because it is suspected most of them have truck driving licence EC not passenger Service Vehicle (PSV) licence.
“Most of these accident are occurring because some are only lorry drivers, coupled with poor roads we have,” commented Nkoloma Charles on Facebook.
To which Tumeyo Banda replied that it’s a mystery as to what happened because double diff buses are very stable and not likely to lose balance as did with the MPC coaches that fell on their sides.
Another said this usually happens when the driver is distracted when in top speed.
“These buses are supposed to be installed with GPS system by the Traffic Directorate to monitor their speed. They should not drive at a speed of more than 100km/hr.
“Any driver who does that should have his license suspended. This is what is being applied in Zambia,” said Chipeta Chipeta.
MPC acquired seven coaches, bought at K700 million through a loan from the FDH Bank and were launched on October 4 by Minister of Information, Civic Education and Communications Technology, Mark Botomani at a colorful ceremony in Lilongwe.