Malawi Police fought running battles with vendor on the streets of the capital Lilongwe, dispersing them from Lilongwe Town Hall as they occupied the land, including the pavements, claiming they had been given an okay by the City Council to turn the area into a market place.
Police had to fire tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse hundreds of vendors who went on an angry rampage after their stalls were dismantled.
The vendors also went as far as across the Lilongwe River and occupied every piece of land available around the Chinese Wullian Super Market, all the way up the river bank to somewhere opposite the Lilongwe minibus terminals.
The vendors claim the City Assembly allocated the piece of land to them so that they stop plying their trade along the streets.
Vendors Clyton Lawani, Denis Chikanda and Everson Chisulo, who are part of the group setting up benches at the controversial site, concurred saying the place was allocated to them by the city authorities and vendos’ chairman, a Mr Namponya.
But when asked bring the chairman for an interview, the vendors found it difficult to locate him.
For months now, the City Assembly assisted by the police has been engaged in running battles with the vendors who trade along the streets as opposed to their dedicated places.
Reacting to the news, Lilongwe City Assembly, through its Director of Commerce, Genscher Mbwabwa, said they have not allocated any place to vendors and that those preparing the land between Town Hall and Lilongwe River are doing it illegally.
“The City has not allocated any land to the vendors. We told those vendors who are selling fruits such as bananas to stop roaming in the streets and settle at Lizulu market along Old Town – City Centre Road, but apparently the others have taken advantage to take the space which they were not given,” explained Director of Commerce, Gemsley Mbwabwa.
Mbwabwa continued saying: “Most of those vendors illegally plying their trade along the streets have benches for trading at the designated markets but they say they don’t sell enough because they think they are far away from where people pass by.”
He said most of them such as second hand clothes and shoes sellers have their proper places unlike fruit sellers such as banana sellers, and that is the reason city wanted to allocate a small piece to the fruit sellers a piece of land at Lizulu market opposed Toyota Malawi, along Old Town – City Center Road.
He however admitted that the city is lacking enough space to accommodate as many sellers as possible.
Malawi is one of the poorest countries in the world, with an estimated 75% of the population living on less than $1 (60p) a day.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :