Blantyre City Council loses K2bn in city rates, attacks bylaws

Over the last few years, the Blantyre City Council (BCC) has drastically fallen short of offering vital services to its residents but management has shielded itself heaping the blame on the country’s “weak bye-laws”.

The council’s management says the laws governing the local authorities are tired and hitting it hard resulting in catastrophic droopiness in its undertakings.

Ironically, the alleged weak bye-laws have been in existence for many years.

“We are failing to properly executive our duties and offer the required services because the laws are very weak and we cannot do anything about that,” BCC Chief Executive Officer, Ted Nandolo mourned over the weekend during a media briefing at the civic centre offices.

Nandolo:  Crisis at BCC
Nandolo: Crisis at BCC

BCC management courted the press to unveil some of its plans and problems that impinge on its service delivery to residents of the country’s commercial city.

The CEO said currently, due to the weak bye-laws, the council is owed about K2 billion by city rates’ defaulters.

“Yes, we are not performing the way we should have been. But this, somewhat, is because some city residents, who are owners of the city, want it that way.

“How can we survive or perform effectively when the city is owed over K2 billion by the owners and in this case who is to blame,” queried Nandolo.

The CEO, however, also revealed that it is failing to enforce city rates collection because electricity, water, city and ground rates are executed by different organizations unlike in other countries where all these fall under one category.

“Elsewhere if one does not pay city rates trouble brews up for him or her because electricity or water would be disconnected and if you do not settle the bills your place is sealed off completely,” he disclosed.

Nandolo cited Malawi Housing Corporation saying it was easy for them to enforce their rates because the premises or houses belong to them.

“They can chuck someone out without any resistance or court challenges while in our case we cannot go that far because the houses belong to other institutions or individuals,” he lamented.

The ever-optimistic CEO, whose three-year secretive contract expires on December 8 this year, however, told reporters not all was lost at the financially crippled institution as management was exploring other avenues to reverse the sorry state of affairs.

“We are working around the clock to put things in order but the residents should likewise do the same instead of pulling us down by, among others, damaging city property,” pleaded Nandolo, flanked by six of his eight directors.

But consciously missing at the briefing was Nandolo’s right hand man, Alfred Chanza, Director of Administrative Services, who together with the CEO, are alleged to have plundered the meagre council’s resources.

Over the past five years things have been falling apart at BCC with the worst being the period between 2011 to date that Nandolo has been at the helm.

During his three-year reign, the council has carelessly and dubiously sold several of its properties such as the spacious Ginnery Corner Traffic Management yard (opposite Fattani Printers), fire brigade site in Limbe, the Mandala nursery and council’s houses.

There have also been flawed employment procedures, financial mismanagement and high-level nepotism where at one point in 2011 (during late Bingu wa Mutharika’s rule) Nyasa Times uncovered that almost the entire management team constituted people from the Lhomwe speaking area- Thyolo, Mulanje and Phalombe.

This year, workers have been receiving their salaries several days after their designated pay days and during the past three years over 100 senior employees have resigned due to discontent with management; over 100 others are serving suspensions while the workers have also gone on strike five times.

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