12 October 2017

Malawi: Controversy Surrounds Mini Bus Touts in Malawi

Despite government's efforts to remove minibus and bus touts, locally known as 'call boys', from the country's streets, the menaces to society continue to operate at bus stops across the country in large numbers.

A few years ago, Government banned bus touts from plying their trade on the country's streets since they were observed to be nuisances creating unnecessary tension demanding money from mini bus operators despite there not being a proper agreement between the two.

A number of call boys were previously arrested and charged for touting, the 'extortioners'have found their way back on the streets demanding money from mini bus and bus operators for their questionable jobs.

A snap survey in Blantyre revealed that the call boys are present at main bus deports across the Commercial City including those in townships and are paid money amounting the bus fare of a single passenger once the bus is full.

Commenting on the development in an interview, Minibus Owners Association of Malawi (MOAM) General Secretary, CoxleyKamange said as the owners of the mini busses, they do not recognize the work of the minibus callboys.

"We are the ones who asked the government to enact a law so that these people should not be found in our loading premises since most of them end up stealing, harassing passengers as well as forcing some passengers to board busses which are not of their choice," he said.

Kamange said the minibus drivers and conductors are forced to pay the touters because they threaten them and also overpower them when they do not comply, a thing which is pure day light robbery.

He said in the past MOAM tried to involve the police in getting rid of the call boys butthis proved futile because once arrested and taken to court, the touters were just fined and soon they were back on the streets touting again.

National Police Public Relations Officer (PRO), James Kadadzera said the Police are there to arrest the minibus callboys but the only problem which sees them returning on the streets are the fines attached to the charges of touting which are lenient and do not have a custodial sentence.

He said currently the touters are not afraid to be arrested due to the lenient fines they receive once arrested hence their being back on the streets.

The National Police PRO said they wouldcontinue their duty as law enforcers and continue arresting the call boys in order to maintain peace and order on the streets of Malawi.

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