Street vending in the country’s cities and towns is proving to be a practice that refuses to die. Several attempts have failed to bear fruits as vendors refuse to go to designated areas such as markets to sell their merchandise, thereby creating a dangerous situation for pedestrians, who are forced to share the main road with vehicles as vendors fill the pedestrian’s pathway.
For instance, in Limbe, minibuses which are stopping to pick and offload passengers anyhow are also a nuisance to pedestrians.
Minibus operators attribute this to lack of a minibus terminal in Limbe. Felix Shonga, a minibus operator, said if there was a minibus terminal, there would have been order and passengers would have had no problems getting on a minibus.
“Passengers are partly to blame because instead of going to designated places to board a minibus, they wait on the roadside. There are too many minibuses here. One terminal cannot even be enough to accommodate all of us,” said Shonga.
Minibus Owners Association of Malawi (Moam) general secretary Coxley Kamange said they asked Blantyre City Council (BCC) for land to construct a terminal, but were given temporary land near Limbe Market.
“We need a permanent piece of land so that we can work on it. On the issue of minibuses offloading anyhow, we feel both drivers and passengers are to blame. If they all abide by the rules, chaos would not be there,” he said.
On the other hand, some vendors refuse to leave the streets, arguing that there is no business in the market.
Maria Kamwendo, a second-hand clothes vendor at Zingwangwa Market, said they prefer vending on the roadside because it is easier for customers to find them.
“We have no place in the market. People do not know where they can get second-hand clothes as the place they assigned us to is not conducive. As a result business is bad. It is better to be out here where we can sell something”, she said.
BCC public relations manager Anthony Kasunda said they are aware of the situation at Zingwangwa Market and will continue with Operation Dongosolo to bring to an end to street vending.
He asked the public to help in curbing this malpractice by shunning street vendors, but he could could not comment on the minibus issue.
“When the issue of space in markets is discussed, people only look at Blantyre and Limbe markets. In our locations, there are markets such as Chilomoni, Bangwe, Naperi, Ndirande and others, with a lot of space. These markets are shunned by vendors who prefer to do their trade along Blantyre commercial business district and Limbe commercial business district streets,” he said.
Kasunda said much as there is need to build more markets or expand the existing ones, space should not be an excuse for traders to break the law,” he said. – TISAUKIRENJI TEMBO