Walking or driving in Blantyre City Commercial Business District (CBD), one is greeted by piles upon piles of stuffed dirty sacks and reed baskets covered with zitenje left on street pavements while some are left on shop verandahs.
As early as 8am, vendors will be busy unpacking their merchandise that ranges from mangoes, vegetables, Irish potatoes to fresh maize (both cooked and uncooked). Slowly, the whole city is turning into some free-for-all flea market where the merchants sell and make profits without remitting any market fees to the council, which would in turn help to develop the city. What a loss!
It is not just the loss of revenue for the city council that is worrying, the filth generated by the selling of the products is a health hazard to residents and visitors to a city that once used to be squeaky clean. These vendors are also clogging the few drainage systems the CBD has. It is quite a sorry and filthy sight. One that would make puke at the sight of house flies that have found haven in the city due to the piles of dirt and trash left behind by the vendors.
The turning of Blantyre CBD into some an unauthorised flea market didn’t just happen overnight. The vendors have for some times been slowly putting tomato and Irish potato one at a time and have now turned into mounds of tomatoes and potatoes. They did this under the watchful eye of the city council officials, who have done nothing to stop it, but instead have let the vending go on.
Apart from the vendors, just close to a shop that used to house Nandos Restaurant, there is now a minibus stage. This is despite the fact that just about 100 meters away, there is a designated minibus stage—Ma Stands.
Council officials are paying a blind eye to this chaos, probably hoping that the vendors will tire and stop selling their goods on the street pavements and shop verandas. No, the vendors will not go away, if anything, more will come and before we know it, the whole city will be some sorts of Lizulu market.
Apart from the city officials, who are definitely letting the vendors scot-free because of some political reasons, the city’s residents are also to blame, and are actually encouraging the vending. By buying goods displayed in such undesignated areas, you are normalising the abnormal. There is a designated Blantyre Market where one can go and buy all manner of goods on their way home from work. But I have heard excuses such as, “it’s convenient to buy from the vendors outside the market”. People need to stop buying from them, let the city official force these vendors out of the CBD and sell their goods in the designated market place. Bring sanity and orderliness into the city.
City dwellers need to love where they live. Part of showing your love for the city is ensuring that it is kept clean and free of any health hazards. Every resident has a role to play. If you stop buying from these vendors, they will be forced to follow you to where you buy your goods—at the market, and not in the street.
Whether you live in a bustling city or a quaint small town, you want to present the best possible image. When your city looks its best, visitors will feel attracted to its many restaurants, shops and outdoor adventures.
Trash encourages insects and pests. Mice, rats, pigeons, and flies all thrive on decomposing garbage. When you let your dirty streets take over the city, you also allow rodents free reign of the open areas, such as sidewalks. Many of these pests also carry diseases that can harm residents, or even cause a city-wide epidemic.
We need the active support of city officials, residents, visitors and businesses to help keep the city clean.