Vendors plying their trade at Vigwagwa market in Mzuzu have defied Mzuzu City Council’s call to vacate the place which is said to belong to the Department of Civil Aviation (DCA).
The council has been under pressure from DCA following a couple of fire incidents at the ‘marketplace’—in July and two weeks ago—when vendors started building permanent structures without consent from the council.
This forced the city council to start relocating the vendors to their designated places in Mzuzu Flea Market, and demolish all the shops built on the area which is located a stone throw away from Mzuzu Airport.
In an interview with Mana, one of the vendors, Yona Phiri, who is also chairperson for the groceries section, said the vendors are ready to wage war with the council if it demolishes the shops, saying they are not shaken with the council’s warning.
“Our stand is unchanged. We are not moving out of this place. If they [city council] want us to move out, then they have to provide us with what we asked for. We need structures suitable for selling grocery items at the flea market,” he said.
Soon after the first fire incident in July, Mzuzu City Mayor William Mkandawire told Mana the council was preparing to start demolishing vendors’ shops by force after a seven–day notice it had given them elapsed.
An order by the Mzuzu High Court gave the vendors to move out of the place expired without the vendors honouring it.
Three months now after the council’s declaration, nothing has been done on the matter as business at the place goes on as usual. If anything, the vendors defiantly continue to construct more shops.
Asked on what has been delaying the city council in demolishing shops built on land that belongs to DCA, Mkandawire could not provide further details, saying a committee was formed to look into the matter.
“We have a committee which was formed to take care of the matter. So, let me consult first,” said Mkandawire.
Unconfirmed reports indicate that the city council is failing to implement its decision to demolish the shops and relocate the vendors to the newly constructed flea market because it does not have adequate funds to hire security officers to assist in the exercise.