Vendors have returned to the streets of Malawian capital, Lilongwe, citing lack of space in designated market squares.
There are throngs of vendors along Kamuzu Procession Road and in the byways of the city.
From hurricane lamps, pirated DVDs, spoons and plastic sheets, one has to negotiate and carefully choose their way on the pavements, lest they step on someone’s merchandise.
A shoe seller, Misias Maliseni, who plies his trade along Malangalanga Road, said vendors are not happy with the situation in the designated markets.
“The markets are congested and the sanitation facilities are very poor and yet we pay money to the city council,” said Maliseni.
Another vendor, Elliot Njoloza, said every time 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 rains and our sales are poor in designated markets compared with what we get on the streets,” said Njoloza.
But chairperson of Lilongwe vendors, George Banda, said he will make sure that the traders return to the designated places.
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,” said Chafunya.
Government spokesperson Moses Kunkuyu said those in the streets are not legitimate vendors.
“According to senior committee members of the vendors committee, those that do their trade on the roadside are not recognised by their committee. There are constant discussions with the vendors which also involve the police and the city authorities to ensure an amicable solution to this whole thing.
“It’s all a misunderstanding that if one goes into the designated markets then customers won’t come. Customers will always go where they find what they want.
The vendors simply have to go by the agreements that they have with the police and the city authorities to avoid being associated with criminal activities as has been the case lately,” said Kunkuyu.
The issue of street vendors has been a touchy issue in Malawi as the trader constantly return to the streets after being relocated.