By Kondwani Magombo
Mangochi, September 14, Mana: MV Ilala passengers who stayed at Monkey Bay Shipyard for 10 days following Malawi Shipping Company (MSC) employees’ sit-in finally left on Sunday using land transport courtesy of well-wishers through the district council.
The passengers, who included men, women and children, arrived at the shipyard on Thursday, September 3, to board the Ilala on Friday, September 4, to travel to Likoma and Karonga respectively, only to find the ship suspended due to the industrial action by the MSC employees.
Some of them returned but 13, among them two families, remained and they sounded SOS for well-wishers to help them get to Nkhata Bay and Karonga using land transport.
Monkey Bay Police Officer In-Charge, Senior Superintendent Charles James Mpezeni, alerted the District Commissioner (DC), Dr. Raphael Piringu, who in turn sent a team to assess the situation on the ground.
The passengers were provided with immediate needs such as mosquito nets, chlorine among others, while a lasting solution was being pursued.
But on Saturday evening Piringu appealed to government sectors and civil society organizations in the district to bail out the stranded passengers by contributing towards land transportation to their respective destinations.
The DC wrote on District Executive Committee social media forum: “We had 13 passengers stranded and now we’re remaining with 9: Three are traveling to Likoma, three to Nkhata Bay and
3 to Uliwa, Karonga.
“We don’t know when the sit-in issue will be sorted out and my writing is to ask fuel support contribution for two vehicles to take some to Uliwa and Some to Nkhata Bay.”
By Sunday morning, government sectors and CSOs including Labour office, Social Welfare Office, Forestry, Malawi College of Fisheries, Malawi Red Cross Society (MRCS) and United Purpose, had made the required fuel contributions.
The passengers left at around 12:30 PM on Malawi College of Fisheries coaster with police escort from Monkey Bay Police Station.
One of the travelers, Tryness Kondowe, told Malawi News Agency (MANA) in an interview Monday morning that they had travelled safely to their respective destinations.
“We travelled very well and we are very appreciative of the gesture the Mangochi District Council has made; Those travelling to Likoma were dropped at Nkhata Bay to connect to their destination by boat,” explained Kondowe.