Every morning i take a bus from Chilobwe Trading Centre to Blantyre CBD where our offices are located. Of late we have been having problems in finding minibuses because of the scarcity of fuel. I could spend over an hour on the stage just waiting for a minibus to come, and even when it came, i could not just board without a fight. Some operators were forced to hike the fares, though illegally, to cover up the problems they face in sourcing the scarce commodity.
But on Tuesday, 9 November we got news that the Malawi Energy Regulatory Authority (MERA) has hiked the fuel prices with about 27%. It was obvious that the minibus operators will follow suit in adjusting the fares. It was no surprise when Coxley Kamange, Secretary General for Minibus Owners Association announced on MBC TV of the bus fares hike.
From Chilobwe Trading Centre I will now be forced to cough MK120 every morning from the usual MK90 going up with MK30. Other routes like Highway (Blantyre to Limbe is at MK110 from MK80), Chilobwe to Limbe MK120 from MK90. MOAM has released a chart showing adjusted fares of all the routes in Malawi.
In response to the fuel hike many businesses have adjusted prices of their goods and some are in the course of adjusting. Sugar, Bread, Meat, Soap, Salt, cooking oil have all gone up following the fuel increase. This means that Malawians have to cough more than they planned to spend this month.
The sad thing is that salaries of employed people have not been adjusted. Not even one company has responded to the fuel increase by adjusting salaries for their employees in the wake of rising cost of living. Life was already hard a few months before the hike will continue biting hard on Malawians.
The other area which will badly hit us is the education sector. Fees will automatically be reviewed to reflect the current situation. Parents will be forced to pay more both for fees and upkeep for their students.
Only God knows how Malawians will come out of this situation.