Malawi Government has warned transporters for not paying international truck drivers a minimum wage of K140 thousand (about U$160) a month, saying such transporters risk being handed a 10-year-jail sentence.
Malawi is currently experiencing a fuel crisis because of a sit in staged by truck drivers over low pay.
Government through the Ministry of Labour in January this year set K140,000 as the minimum wage for drivers.
However, drivers have complained that truck owners are still paying them K40,000.
Deputy Minister of Labour Vera Kamtukule in a statement yesterday warned transporters that non-compliance with the minimum wage is an offence punishable under Section 55 of the Employment Act and it carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison.
“All non-complying employers are therefore advised to take corrective measures,” said Kamtukule in the statement posted on government Facebook page.
The striking drivers have also complained of high costs of getting tested for Covid-19 and the high passport fees.
In response, Government yesterday also gazetted a law reducing a 48-page passport fee for cross border truck drivers from K120,000 to K60,000 while the Ministry of Health issued a waver that all truck drivers that cross borders should be testing for Covid-19 free of charge.
Meanwhile, commenters on the Government of Malawi Facebook page have faulted government for threatening transporters instead of resolving issues.
“Learn to meet and discuss with all concerned parties when such matters arise. Issuing threats won’t yield anything. Yes, you need to protect employees but at the same time you also have to make sure businesses survive,” said one person.
Another commenter wrote: “Attempting quick fixes. The root problem is that 80% of cargo is hauled by foreigners who offer cheaper rates because they are not subjected to high running costs like toll fees etc in their countries. If you are not giving their bosses jobs and threatening them with 10 years for noncompliance you are just making this issue much greater than it is. Buy Malawian, practice what you preach.”