Public transport fee hike justifiable – Economic expert

… Urges Govt to reduce fuel prices

Economic expert Lwitiko Munkhondya has said public transport owners are justified to raise their charges in response to the government’s directive of reducing vehicles capacity but the government should reduce fuel prices.

The government ordered public transport capacity to be dropped to two people per seat, with effect from 1st April. According to the government, this is one of the preventive measures to Coronavirus which has affected the whole world.

The move has seen public transport fares skyrocketing,  with fares being hiked by 100% in most routes and in other areas it is even more. Some Malawians have resorted to walking on their way to their respective workplaces.

In an interview with Malawi24 on Wednesday, Munkhondya argued that the hike in public transport fares makes business sense. His argument is premised on government’s failure to subsidize fuel.

“In business everybody strives to make profits otherwise it wouldn’t make sense to be in business. So with the government restricting the number of passengers every vehicle can carry, it means owners risks incurring losses since fuel prices remain fixed. By hiking charges, it means the floor of income in the transport sector remains constant.

“On a sad note, the burden is going to fall on a few remaining passengers since they have to cover for other passengers who would have been in the vehicle,” he said.

The youthful economist added that the hike is unfair for average Malawians considering that it will be a tall order for them to be fruitful in the wake of hefty transport charges.

Lwitiko is of the view that the government should have increased the amount of subsidy which is allocated to fuel so that prices should fall.

Munkhondya has also advised the government to put proper structures in place to avoid the bad effects that are likely to follow when the pandemic will be tackled. He said, the economic recovery process will be a daunting task especially for developing countries such as Malawi because the current situation is crippling their humble economies.

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