Blantyre traders camp at City Council

Hundreds of traders in the commercial city of Blantyre on Monday turned Blantyre City Council (BCC) civic centre offices into a business showground almost bringing operations to a standstill.

The members of the business community had congregated at the civic centre offices in their multitudes to renew their business licenses while others were applying for new ones.

This follows BCC declaration that it would from this week starting sealing all business premises whose owners do not have licenses and those whose licenses expired.

Since last Tuesday, the council has been going round the city streets and townships with public address system reminding traders to renew their licenses for the 2011/2012 and those without to apply for one or face the tune. Deadline for renewing the old licenses was June 2011 and reports indicate very few traders voluntarily complied with the regulations.

Traders besieged City Council

But on Monday morning, the development created another queuing centre at the civic centre offices grounds. The lines snaked along Kasungu Crescent Road thereby bringing curiosity among the passersby.

When this Nyasa Times reporter visited the area, some mischievous youths could be heard throwing insults at the President Bingu wa Mutharika “for successfully turning the country into a nation of queuing for every services.”

“It is really sad that queuing has become the order of the day. Everything one requires now he or she has to queue first, thanks Bingu for successfully changing our Malawi into a nation of queuing,” commented an unidentified cyclist wearing a dark blue uniform for a security company.

When Nyasa Times reporter entered into the accounts longue he discovered that there only 12 seats for the visitors against hundreds of traders. The pace at which the accounts people were attending to the people was so boring and very casual making people to take a lot of time.

There are various business licenses, among them, the liquor licenses which range from K8000 to K20000, manufacturing license costs K20000, food license is at K10000 while the pharmaceutical licenses range between K5000, according to information gathered at the accounts section.

Meanwhile, reports indicate that the council will this year not grant licenses for a number of night clubs because most of them are compromising with health and safety standards.

According to the source, traders’ compliance on the renewal of the licenses has this year been almost zero hence the move to issue a threat.

An employ at the civic center offices who refused to be named said the exercise was not about punishing people but rather reaching out to them to comply with regulations.

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