Vendors in Malawi’s capital, Lilongwe, have returned to the streets and vowed that they will continue trading there because space in the markets is not enough.
In an interview on Tuesday, about 15 vendors said they have returned to the streets to stay.
“We are not happy with the situation in the designated markets where we are forced to sell our wares. The markets are congested and the sanitation facilities are very poor and yet we pay money to the city council,” said one vendor Misias Maliseni, who sells second hand shoes along the Malangalanga Road.
Another vendor, Elliot Njoloza, said everytime they are forced off the streets, they are promised better conditions in the markets but nothing is done to improve sanitation facilities.
“At Tsoka Market, some toilets were washed away by the rains and our sales are poor in designated markets when compared with what we get on the streets,” said Njoloza.
Lilongwe vendors chairman George Banda said: “I am the new chairman and I will make sure that the vendors go back to their designated places. Negotiations are ongoing and we hope that soon a solution will be found and the vendors will leave the streets,”
Lilongwe City Council spokesperson Tamara Chafunya said it was unfortunate that vendors have returned to the streets.
“We cannot chase the vendors from the streets now but we are working very hard to make sure that we discuss with them so that they go back to the areas designated for them. It is a concern to the City Council to see the vendors back in the streets because streets are not supposed to be areas for selling wares,” says Chafunya.
Minister of Local Government and Rural Development Grace Maseko refused to comment on the issue saying that public relations officer Maganizo Mazeze was well placed to comment.
Mazeze said he was on holiday and could not comment on the issue.
Since Malawi changed from one party to multi party politics, the issue of vending on streets has always been a sensitive one as governments fears of losing support from the vendors.