HRDC endorses MOAM toll gate stay away

Trapence

The Human Rights Defenders Coalition (HRDC) has endorsed the nationwide stay away by the Minibus Owners Association of Malawi (MOAM).

The stay away was announced on Thursday and is set for next Monday, November 8, 2021.

MOAM is protesting the toll fees being imposed at the newly-opened Chingeni Toll Plaza. 

Gift Trapence, HRDC national chairperson said their support of the protest by MOAM comes in view of the fact that everyone has a Constitutional right to peaceful demonstration.

"As HRDC, we are in agreement with concerns by MOAM that the fees are exorbitant given the minibus business and we join the association in calling on the Ministry of Finance to reduce the toll fees. 

"Our support for MOAM follows the concerns we raised in our communique of August 19, 2021 in which we expressed shock at the toll fees."

Motorists will have pay a minimum of K1,700 and a maximum of K50,000 to gain passage through the tollgates. 

"We know for a fact that these fees will drive the cost of public transportation up as owners will have no choice but to pass on these costs to the passengers. In the end, it is poor Malawians who will feel the pain. 

"While we appreciate that the tollgate system spurs development in the sense that it raises funds for the construction of the vital road infrastructure, we feel that the fees should not be punitive to force road-users to think twice before embarking on a journey," he said.

Trapence has since called on government to listen to the voice of reason and, in  consultation with MOAM and other various stakeholders that represent road-users and ordinary citizenry, revise these fees so that they are within the reach of most Malawians. 

"In so doing, Malawians will feel that they are contributing to national development instead of being punished for using the road," he said.