Confusion as vendors challenge Blantyre City Council

Small scale traders in the city of Blantyre are openly challenging authorities from the Blantyre City Council (BCC) over its ban on selling green maize, Nyasa Times has observed.

BCC through MBC Radio 1 and 2 and the country’s newspapers has been placing advertisements warning people against the sale of the green maize but our investigations across the city has revealed that it is business as usual as nothing has changed.

The press statement, signed by the Chief Executive, Emmanuel Ted Nandolo, reads: “Blantyre City Council wishes to inform the general public that with immediate effect the sale of green maize (whether roasted, cooked or raw) is prohibited within the boundaries of the City.

“The ban shall remain in force until the end of the green maize season. The Council wishes to appeal to members of the general public to comply with the press release.”

Blantyre City CEO, Ted Nandolo: No sale of green maize

A source at BCC said the press releases that have been posted in all the markets, have also been sent to police in addition to the newspapers and radio adverts.

However, a snap survey in a number of locations and telephone interviews conducted on Monday showed that business was normal as it was before the ban.

Some vendors interviewed by Nyasa Times remained adamant saying “I am aware of the ban but I will not stop. What do they expect me to do since I get my daily bread through the same business? I support my family with this business and if stop they want me to start stealing?” queried a vendor near Kudya Filling Station who claimed that he has been in the trade for the last three years and does not fear city authorities.

At Limbe market, where posters of the press release were spotted on walls and trees, many people were seen selling raw, roasted and cooked maize.

But surprisingly, nearly all of them had official market tickets from the Council recognizing their eligibility to sell the product at the market.

“We know of the ban, but go and ask the officials why they are charging us [K50] market fee? Does that not indicate some of these things are done by individuals or are aimed at penalizing the disadvantaged in order to please certain sectors of people?” asked a lady vendor, who produced to this reporter a genuine BCC ticket.

But a concerned Nkolokosa resident, who refused to be named, had no kind words for the council saying their ban has delayed when damage had already been done.

“I have been reporting to council about theft of my maize but the council has never acted as if it wants to give chance to these thieves to finish my maize,“ fumed the lady who has a two-hectare garden near Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital along the Soche road.

BCC Public Relations Manager, Lunzana Khanga, was not available for comment as she could not pick up her phone but according to previous interviews, other than the theft the ban also tries to control sanitation issues like cholera out break in the city.

However, an official from the administration department heaped the blame on the security and enforcement sections saying they were failing to do their job.

“That is the job of the security and enforcement sections and if people are still selling the maize and refusing to abide by the bye laws then they are simply failing their job because they have the mandate to do that,” she said while refusing to be named.

Last week, media reports indicated that an unidentified man suspected to have been found stealing was found dead in Bangwe Township with 16 cobs of green maize besides him.

It is believed that the man might have been killed by a mob when he was caught stealing maize in the garden.

Due to the increasing cases of theft, most people have formed response groups in the townships that are keeping watch in their fields to deal with the thieves.

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