minibus fuel & mobile airtime

Since the introduction of mini buses in Malawi, people have been able to get around and droop off pretty much anywhere they want. That is the major advantage of mini buses. There are plenty things however that I don’t like like smelly arm pits of the conductors or tight chairs especially for daddy-long-legs like some of us or having a bag of dried fish being placed on your lap. But you come to accept that as part of commuter life. There is one thing however that I don’t like and still can’t understand and it is the bus running out of fuel. What is even more surprising it that once the conductor jumps out with his jerry can, he will only buy a litre or two of the pink energy. Definitely that bus will run out of fuel very soon. Why they insist on driving with a few drops of fuel remains a mystery. One colleague when further to ask the driver ‘mukayika fuel wambiri mukuwona ngati ma passenger ife timwa?’ (You think we passengers will drink the fuel if you put in a considerable amount?). The question/comment did not faze the driver.

Minibus owners, driver and conductors aside, I have come to learn of a new breed of people who do exactly what these formers do – mobile phone users. They will buy 50 units or 100 units of airtime and load it into their phones. They will then make a call which will cut within seconds because they have exhausted their credit. They will then either pull out another top up card from their pocket or signal to a vendor to bring some more airtime. If you watch them carefully, they will have a couple hundreds or thousands of Kwacha’s in their pockets and make a couple of phone calls but stubbornly insist on loading the airtime ‘a litre or two’ at a time!!

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Austin Madinga's Life Unbound