There is a blame game between Malawi Police Service (MPS) and the Lilongwe City Council (LCC) over who is responsible for the return of vendors in undesignated places, including along streets.
LCC chief executive Richard Hara blames the situation on the police for not arresting vendors when they are selling their wares in undesignated places.
Speaking in an interview on Wednesday following the return of vendors in most streets in Lilongwe, including Area 36 where authorities recently burned stalls and wares, Hara said the council is powerless because vendors only get out of streets when they are confronted by police.
Said Hara: “We have heard that some vendors are now back in the streets, but there is nothing we can do now. We wish the police could arrest them once they start selling their wares in undesignated places. If the police find people fighting they arrest them there and then but that is not the case with vendors.”
But Inspector General (IG) of police Paul Kanyama said the issue of vendors is complex, requiring a multi-sectoral approach.
Said Kanyama: “If the council is saying we are not doing enough, our question is where are the markets? Vending is quite a complex issue and police alone cannot solve it.”
He said there was need for councils to return to the drawing board and find proper places where vendors can be selling their wares.
But Hara said the council does not generate enough money from market fees as it is the only council still charging K50 per day.
“In fact, everytime we embark on a mission to remove vendors we spend over K10 million per day and yet we do not get that much from fees. In fact, if this was a business we could have closed shop by now.”