Government says it will challenge the injunction that stands in the way for the Ministry of Local Government to take charge, through its local councils, of bus depots managed by a private firm.
The four bus depots, namely Wenela in Blantyre, Lilongwe, Kasungu and Mzimba that were over the years were run by National Bus Service Limited, under Mulli Brothers Limited, have been in court dispute over ownership grounds.
However, the High Court in Blantyre on Friday ruled in favour of the Ministry of Local Government as the rightful owners of the bus depots, thereby warding off ownership claims by National Bus Service Limited.
In an interview yesterday, Minister of Local Government Blessings Chinsinga said the ministry is aware of the existing court injunction but all necessary measures will be taken to vacate it.
He said: “I have received a letter from the Attorney General, informing us that the ministry is now the custodian of the bus depots that have been in dispute. This means that ownership of the bus depots has now reverted to respective local councils.
“However, we acknowledge that there is a court injunction, but through the Attorney General, government will do everything possible to get rid of it, so that we should proceed with the agenda of modernising the depots”.
Following the ruling on Friday, National Bus Service Limited lawyer Lusungu Gondwe described it as inconsequential, saying the bus depots remain under the management of National Bus Service Limited because there was an injunction from the Commercial Court on the matter.
Lilongwe City Council (LCC) spokesperson Tamara Chafunya in a written response, described the restored ownership of Lilongwe bus terminal as a welcome development, saying the previous private ownership scenario affected the council in various ways.
She said: “LCC could not properly deal with congestion around Malangalanga area as several public transport businesses shunned the depot due to high charges. The council also had challenges to enforce traffic by law violations due to lack of space.”
In a separate interview yesterday, Malawi Local Government Association (Malga) executive director Hadrod Mkandawire said the restored ownership of bus depots will boost their revenue base, and improve service delivery.
He urged authorities to allow councils to independently manage the bus terminals without political interference, saying the current court battles on ownership of the bus depots, that created ‘Migodi’, largely emanates from previous political influence.