CFTC concerned over excessive bus fares

…Road Traffic to enforce bus fares starting on Monday

The Competition and Fair Trading Commission (CFTC) and the Ministry of Transport and Public Works have expressed concern over excessive fares by bus operators, saying bus fares have gone up despite fuel prices being reduced.

In a statement today, CFTC and the Ministry of Transport and Public Works said they have noted with great concern that a number of minibuses and buses are taking advantage of the global COVID 19 pandemic to exploit passengers by charging excessive and unreasonable bus fares.

According to the to the statement, a market surveillance and price monitoring exercise jointly carried out by the Commission and the Ministry showed that, despite two consecutive downward fuel price adjustments, bus fares had increased by unreasonably high margins ranging from 40% to 200%.

“By charging excessively despite the substantial fuel price reductions, bus operators are in serious breach of Section 43 of the Competition and Fair Trading Act and the Consumer Protection Act,” the CFTC and the ministry said.

In assessing whether fares were excessive or not, the Ministry of Transport and Public Works and the Commission took into account prevailing fares by the same bus operators prior to the COVID-19 outbreak as benchmark fares.

Following consultations involving the Public Transport Association, Minibus Owners Association of Malawi, Passenger Welfare Association and Malawi Police Service, the Ministry and the Commission determined that any bus fare increase by a margin of more than 40% constituted excessive pricing in blatant violation of the Competition and Fair Trading Act.

It was also noted during a market surveillance that owners of minibuses and buses were not complying with Road Traffic Regulations which require bus operators to display fare-tables or fare charts.

“Precisely, Regulation 10(2) of the Road Traffic (Public Service Vehicles) (Operation) Regulations of 2000 stipulates that:

“No person shall cause or permit a bus to be used on a road unless the conductor or where there is no conductor, the driver has available a fare-table for the route on which such bus is operating.”

“The Regulations further stipulate that fare-tables shall be produced on request to any person reasonably requiring to examine such fare-tables.,” reads part of the statement.

To enforce bus fares and the production of fare tables, the  CFTC and the Directorate of Road Traffic and Safety Services (DRTSS) will on Monday June 15 start a joint enforcement and surveillance activities on all routes across the country.