From Malawi National Transport Master Plan (NTMP)

The primary objective of study is to guide the sustainable development of an integrated multi modal transport sector for Malawi over the period 2016 to 2037.  3 Strategies are

1. Reduce transport costs and prices across all modes;
2. Improve the safety of transport infrastructure and services; and
3. Enhanced and sustainable passenger transport system

The aim of this urban transport plan is to propose a strategy that will result in the
development of sustainable (public) urban transport systems served by a strong mass
transit network supplemented by other modes including walking, cycling, buses and taxis.

Usage rate of minibus is high

In Lilongwe, the population is 989,318.  The total number of 120,150 passengers were counted crossing the cordon on the survey day. The number of trips (origin to destination, one way) per minibus per day within the city varied between 4 and 10, with an average of 6 trips

Estimated number of minibuses in Lilongwe is 3,761. With an average passenger daily load per vehicle per day of 59.4. The total daily passengers carried by minibuses in Lilongwe is on average 223,403.

Minibus fare is high

Minibus fares average around MWK40-50 per kilometre, and are largely driven by fuel costs which are constant across the country. Minibus fares in Lilongwe are around MWK 50 per km. Such a fare level, relative to ability to pay, is high in international comparison.

Relative to affordability minibus fares in Lilongwe 23 times more expensive than bus
fares in London.



Although in Lilongwe, the total annual turnover of minibuses is of the order of $20 million, the business is not highly profitable and the poor quality of vehicles bears
testament to this.






Minibuses’s overcharge issue

Minibuses are the most popular option because they leave regularly throughout the day. They operate on a fill-up-and-go basis;  For long distance journey, you need to change once or twice.  You can still buy a long-distance ticket, the driver should transfer your fare to the connecting service, but it is wiser to only pay as far as the place where you will change minibuses.

However, travelling on minibuses was slow and overcharging attempts do take place.   You knew it was overcharged when the conductor whispers the fare price.

The buses usually lack maintenance which makes the time schedule unreliable. Malawi should improve its transport.

Automatic fare collection (AFC) may solve

There are typical problems in under-developing countries such as fraud from driver and conductor, fake money, overcharge, low-budget to perform maintenance.

AFC can reduce the process of handling the fees by the conductors or drivers.  People will definitely re-use the service which can keep the owner a sustainable financial growth.

Business opportunity

Instead of invest a big amount of money on transport payment system, using a low-cost reliable solution may be an option.  It should definitely stop overcharge issue immediately.  It will improve the financial situation and get a good cash flow from the those 223,403 people per day.

The write is a frequency traveler.  For more detail about AFC, please visit



Post Author: GCSharing

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