Blantyre vendors threaten to cause havoc, trade along streets

Street vendors doing what they know best-photo by Blazio Banda

Street vendors doing what they know best-photo by Blazio Banda

Eunice Nkhoma Publicity Secretary for BT vendors union-photo by Blazio Banda

Eunice Nkhoma Publicity Secretary for BT vendors union-photo by Blazio Banda

 

Blantyre vendors worried over the bridge that pauses a risk to people's lives-photo by Blazio Banda

Blantyre vendors worried over the bridge that pauses a risk to people’s lives-photo by Blazio Banda

Thopson Banda BLantyre vendors union chairman-photo by Blazio Banda

Thopson Banda BLantyre vendors union chairman-photo by Blazio Banda

Sceptic tank abandoned by BCC close to a take away pausing a health risk to people-photo by Blazio Banda

Sceptic tank abandoned by BCC close to a take away pausing a health risk to people-photo by Blazio Banda

Government’s failure to remove vendors who do business in the streets of Blantyre, as well as lack of electricity in the flea market and the produce market has posed a threat as the traders in both markets have said they will start trading along streets if these problems are not addressed in time.

Blantyre vendors union Chairman Thopson Banda told Nyasa Times that authorities should remove some vendors and allocate them to the flea market that was built for them.

“This is a big problem because these vendors doing street vending are blocking most of the customers from reaching us. Customers would prefer to buy from the streets than moving into the markets just to get vegetables, tomatoes, Irish potatoes and many others,” said Banda.

They also asked Blantyre City Council officials to make efforts of bringing back electricity into the two markets.

“The other thing which is greatly affecting us is the fact that electricity in both markets was disconnected a long time ago. We have tried talking to the BCC officials but they are avoiding helping our concerns,” he said.

Banda said that other issues that will likely force vendors move out of the markets is the fact that no vendors pay market fees in the streets as compared to their counterparts.

“Our worry is that we vendors who are operating inside the two markets do pay market fees on daily basis while our friends in streets don’t pay. So, this tendency will attract most vendors moving into streets,” he said.

On why streets vendors are not asked to pay market fees, Banda said street vending is not allowed and hence asking a market fee from them will mean city officials have accepted street vending.

Eunice Nkhoma, spokesperson for the vendors union added that government as well as the city council should act or they will cause havoc.

“What I see is chaos that will erupt in future because if our friends are left in the streets, customers continue being blocked, then we shall join them and due to lack of space, there will be havoc.”

“We have a space inside both markets mainly the Taifa market where it has a large space that can be cleaned to accommodate those vendors currently doing business in streets,” she said.

Nkhoma said as a way of curbing the tendency, there was a need for government as well as BCC to put security personnel that will guard against street vending.

She said their fellow vendors regard them as non-active union because they are denied to be heard.

The union further asked the BCC officials whom they believe to have experienced international vending to apply such vending principles into the Malawian soil.

“We believe our bosses at BCC have gone outside Malawi and they have witnessed how our fellow vendors do their business. We need them to apply such principles here in Malawi so that we do our businesses professionally,” said John Chitera, union’s member.

The union’ representatives said BCC officials should learn to respond to their concerns in a speedy way claiming they informed the officials of the bad condition the two bridges that connect the two markets are but the issue is left unattended.

“We have two bridges that connect people to and from the two markets and they need immediate renovations because they pose risks to one’s life. During rainy season, most places inside the markets are dirty due to heavy mud and most heaps of wastes that are left unattended a thing that brings fear in as far as hygiene is concerned,” said Chitera.

Nyasa Times also discovered that most waste are close to take a ways and places where most people are doing businesses and likely pose a threat to health risks.

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