Malawi’s Chileka International Airport ground staff were on Saturday forced to manually load and offload cargo which included 2 coffins containing human remains as well as baggage following the breakdown of two remaining conveyor belts, one of which stopped working some weeks ago.
This incident forced passengers to stand in the arrivals section of the airport for quite a longer time waiting for their baggage.
Lilongwe Handling Company (LIHACO) has for so long been accused by airlines of using old unserviceable equipment which leads to delays and other ground incidents which put the carrier’s business at stake.
LIHACO station manager for Blantyre, Charles Nkhoma could not answer his ground phone when contacted in search for his input on the matter.
However, passengers commented negatively while questioning the credibility of keeping a company which is even failing to repair worn out equipment.
One of the LIHACO’s staff members who confided in us on conditions of anonymity, lamented on the tendency of unnecessary and extravagance expenditure by top management office holders, who had in two consecutive years bought eight state of the art KIA vehicles at over K40million each, with servicing wholly shouldered by the company.
‘’It’s very disheartening to see them enriching themselves with unnecessary travel allowances each passing day as well as spending millions on their cars while they can’t even service a conveyor belt,’’ said the disappointed employee.
After efforts to talk to the station manager proved futile, we also tried to get through for the Motor Transport Manager MTM, Mr Chabaluka whose ground phone went unanswered for several times.
One passenger, a Malawian of Asian origin who disembarked Kenyan Airways, Rahmir Mahomed wondered over the silence surrounding the matter of privatisation and the search for strategic partners for underperforming government companies like LIHACO, an idea which experts recommended for efficiency of operations and growth of the country’s economy.
Chileka Airport is located about 4 kilometres northwest of the central business district of Blantyre and has no Passenger Aid Unit, Modern High loader, no functioning conveyor belt and has no reliable Passenger check-in equipment, which forces passengers to stand on the queue for a long time without getting assistance.