More than 70 Minibus Drivers in Mkushi District have protested against what they termed as unfair attentions from the District Council as well District Traffic Police.
Mkushi’s Minibus Drivers Association Chairperson Matthews Mulenga told ZANIS that Minibus Drivers were protesting against Council’s action to evict them from a station located within the town center.
He said that coupled with Council’s eviction Order, Minibus Drivers were complaining against the local Traffic Police for charging them penalties that ranged between K270 to K540, allegedly for contravening Traffic Parking regulations.
He explained that Minibus Drivers were dismayed by the Council eviction Order saying that the Association had requested for permission to use the station site at the town center several Months ago.
Mr. Mulenga said that the Local Government authorities had hinted the go-ahead for the Minibus Drivers Association to use that premises whilst the Council was still finalizing on a designated Bus Station site.
He described the eviction Order as ‘unfair’, saying the Council had not yet located a site for use as official Bus station, charging that the Local Government authorities had earlier approved the use of a temporal station.
He said that coupled with this, the Bus Drivers were unhappy with Traffic Police officers for charging them penalties for parking at that contentious bus station, adding that Drivers felt that the action was harsh.
Mr Mulenga pointed out that the Minibus Drivers Association had opted to appeal for Governmental intervention on the matter via the District Commissioner (DC), saying that the situation was depriving Drivers of income.
He said that the matter required urgent consideration from the DC saying that Minibus Drivers were being deprived of the livelihood to feed their families.
He noted that the recent Fuel price hikes had further compounded the problem as Bus Drivers were in dire need of income.
Commenting on the issue, Mkushi DC Christopher Chibuye disclosed that the Council’s decision to issue the eviction Order had been influenced by recommendations from Environmental Health Personnel.
Mr Chibuye said that Personnel from Health Department had recommended the eviction of Minibuses from the tow center site, citing the absence of toilets.
He said that this development had led the Council into rescinding the approval that was earlier granted to the Minibus operators.
He however called on the Minibus Drivers Association to remain calm, adding hat he would make frantic efforts to liaise with the Council Secretary (CS) as well as Police Officer in Charge.
Mr. Chibuye said that his office recognized the valuable service which the Minibus sector provided to the public, saying that he would accord the issue with priority in order to save the affected families hunger.
Scores of Minibus Drivers besieged the office of the DC to express their grievances on Monday.