Road hauliers, SMEs feel pinch of demos

Road hauliers and small business operators say the continued wave of demonstrations is creating a hostile business operating environment.

Road Transport Operators Association (Rtoa) president Abdul Lambat said in an interview that the demonstrations have created fear among transporters as most trucks are being parked to ensure safety of goods and life.

Demonstrations are making most of the country’s road impassable

He said transporters have also started facing challenges in accessing foreign exchange for their transport business.

Said Lambat: “There is a big impact on us as road transport operators. You know that transport is the backbone of the economy because without transportation nothing will move.

“They are blocking roads and making them impassable. We are scared and most of the vehicles are parked for days and weeks because we do not know what could happen on the road.”

“Unfortunately, we don’t know when these things will stop.

He, however, said it would be difficult to quantify in monetary terms how much the transporters have lost due to the demonstrations.

Weighing in on the same, National Small and Medium Enterprises (Nasme) national coordinator William Mwale said the demonstrations have continued to have a damaging effect on the whole business process.

He said small businesses continue to lose business due to demonstrations and that at the moment, business is not conducive.

“In our own assessment, we would say small and medium enterprise sector and cooperatives have lost business by about 45 percent. This is because there have been a lot of disturbances, it has not been normal for one to do business due to the fear and tension that demonstrations have created.

“It is really a sad development to the effect that even if the situation is corrected today, the damage will still go for the next one year or beyond. It will take time for government, donors and other partners to freely release funds for various projects and activities,” said Mwale.

Human Rights Defenders Coalition (HRDC) have been organising demonstrations to force Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) chairperson Jane Ansah to resign for allegedly mismanaging the electoral results.

This week, HRDC planned to shut down the country’s airports and border posts, but their plans have been thwarted by a court injunction which Malawi Revenue Authority (MRA) and others obtained, arguing that the move has the potential to affect revenue collections.

Rtoa said the shutdown could have affected their orders and deliveries of goods within and outside the borders of Malawi.

Ministry of Transport and Public Works projected that airports and border shutdown could have cost the country’s economy about K1 billion in lost revenue.

Since May 21 Tripartite Election, HRDC has been conducting mass demonstrations in the country’s cities and other districts.

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