People selling merchandise at a makeshift market during last weekend’s Lake of Stars Festival at Nkopola Lodge in Mangochi have complained of poor sanitation.
The official venue of the festival had 18 flush toilets, while the specially built makeshift market outside, where locals were selling various merchandise, had four pit latrines.
Businesspeople felt the pit latrines were inadequate to cater for individuals running 60 businesses in the market.
Changa Maulidi, who was selling food stuffs, said the pit latrines started emitting a stench on the third day of the festival.
He said this did not go down well with some of his customers who could not eat on site due to the smell.
“In such a big event, they need to provide us with adequate toilets. But as it appears the toilets are not enough because they were full on the third day of the event. Even if you go there you will see sewage piling up. As a result, they have started emitting a bad smell.
“The problem is that they didn’t dig deep enough and these are the same toilets we use every year. The just apply chemicals. This is affecting our business, and the image of our country is tainted,” said Maulidi.
During the interview, this reporter experienced the odour.
But Lake of Stars director and founder Will Jameson blamed village head Chipoka, the organisers were not responsible for the mess outside the venue.
“That is nothing to do with us, ask chief Chipoka. We were only responsible for what happens inside. The market had at least 60 stalls and that was to be taken care of by the chief,” he said.
Chipoka, however, laid the blame on the festival organisers, insisting they never approached her to construct additional latrines.
“It’s true that the latrines are producing bad smell. The problem is that we have been using these pit latrines for three years now, and during the festival the toilets were not enough,” she said.
Lake of Stars is an annual arts event that takes place every year. n