People in the country have expressed concerns over the ongoing mandatory sim card registration claiming long queues are making it hard for people to register.
Last month, the Malawi Communications Regulatory Authority (MACRA) ordered people to go to offices of their mobile phone network providers to have their cards registered.
“In collaboration with all phone companies in Malawi, MACRA is therefore calling upon the general public to go to their respective phone service providers to have their numbers registered by 31st March, 2018,” reads part of MACRA statement.
However, according to people who spoke with this reporter in random interviews at some registration centres in Blantyre, the move seems to be good but the registration process is slow.
Martin Lufeyo, 54, who walked a 2 hour journey all the way from Binda village far west of the commercial city said the innovation seems to be a burden to people who are living in remote areas like him.
He said MACRA together with the services providers has not considered people in the village who have to walk long distances for their cards to be registered.
Bertha Mbewe, 30, who was on position 103 on a line at Blantyre TNM offices said there was supposed to be other means of registering claiming it would be hard for someone to leave one’s job and be on a queue for sim registration.
“This exercise is taking much of our time and you can imagine that I have failed to report to my work just to register my TNM card and you can see that there are many people in front of me on this line,” said Mbewe.
On his part, 24 year-old Kondwani Gowa who was at Limbe Airtel offices said in most registration centres there are only two or three officers hence long queues.
Some people called for other means of registering while others said the number of officers assisting customers should be increased.
There are also concerns that the exercise will be costly especially to Malawians from remote areas who might need transportation to and from registration centres.
MACRA said all unregistered SIM cards will be banned from 1 April, a development which has angered many Malawians who are saying the registration exercise needs at least 5 to 6 months considering the high number of people who use phones.
Communications Act of 2016 empowers Macra to enforce mandatory registration of SIM cards and generic numbers.