There was pandemonium in Malawi’s boarder district of Mwanza this week when a group of irate poultry farmers and vendors raided the District Commissioner’s office pressuring it to block Crown Agro Industries Limited from selling chickens in the area.
The disgruntled vendors went further to assault three employees of the company- a driver (Alex Kambadya), salesman (Lawrence Chinkhadze) and assistant driver (Juma Kachingwe).
During the fracas, the gang also reportedly killed and stole several chickens from the company and damaged Crown Chickens’ vehicle which was carrying the chickens.
Meanwhile, police have arrested three people for instigating the scuffle, assaulting the workers, killing and stealing the chickens and damaging Crown Chickens’ vehicle.
The sticking point was the low prices being offered by Crown Chickens, a subsidiary of Crown Agro Industries Limited, which angered the poultry farmers and vendors.
The group claimed Crown Chickens’ low prices were heavily crashing their business and demanded the company to either adjust their prices or totally discontinue trading in the district.
Crown Chickens sell their chickens at K1450 each while the commercial farmers as well as the vendors are selling at K2000 each.
Over the last few months, prices of every basic commodity have soared in the district because of the coming in of Mota Engil, a Portuguese construction company that is building a multi-million 138.5km long railway line across the district.
Mwanza District Commissioner, Gift Rapozo, confirmed in an interview with Nyasa Times, the vendors besieged his office to complain about Crown Chickens’ prices which they claimed had affected their poultry business.
“Basically, the concern of the vendors was that they were being pushed out of the market by their competitors, Crown Agro Industries, who are offering low prices to the consumers as compared to theirs. They said it was unfair to let Crown Chickens come into the market because they will choke their businesses,” explained Rapozo.
The farmers confronted the District Commissioner’s office demanding him to stop the company from selling their chickens in the district failing which they would deal with them by themselves.
“Of course we are yet to resolve the issue because some concerned vendors started taking the law into their hands by physically assaulting workers from Crown Chickens and damaging the vehicle before they were arrested,” explained Rapozo.
He added: “But we want to solve this issue amicably between Crown Chickens and the vendors to reach a common ground.”
While confirming the development in a separate interview, Crown Chickens General Manager, Christopher Robin Peck, bemoaned the vendors’ aggressiveness but indicated his company was ready to engage in discussions with the concerned party.
“It is an unfortunate incident but we do not have any confrontation whatsoever with them. We are looking forward to working with them for the benefit of both of us and the people of Mwanza.
“We are here to work with them in a better fashion and the unpleasant incident will not deter us from providing people of Mwanza an access to affordable food like our chickens and eggs,” stated Peck while insisting that they were not ready just now to adjust their prices as that would not be a true reflection of market value.
Peck declared that his company would not be forced to raise the prices just to please Mwanza vendors because it does not want to steal from ordinary citizens by denying them access to cheap food.
“We know life in Mwanza is becoming unbearable because of Mota Engil workers whose majority live decent lives and those suffering are mainly ordinary citizens who cannot manage to buy basic commodities because the prices have exorbitantly risen and we do not want to be part of that hence our offering affordable prices,” said the Crown Chickens boss.
According to Mwanza Police Officer-in-Charge, Senior Assistant Commissioner of Police, Evalista Chisale, the three were charged with common assault and malicious damage.
“After chasing the Crown Chickens’ workers from the market, they hired a vehicle and started following them up to Mphete Trading Center where they physically attacked them. And in the course of the attack they tore clothes of the complainant, Lawrence Chinkhadze and also killed some chickens,” explained the police boss.
Chisale identified the three suspects as Custom Mulomole, 40, from Mwenyemasi Village, T/A Mponda in Mangochi District, Leonard Zimba, 35, from Hawu Village and 30-year-old Patrick Banda of Mchotseni Village both from Traditional Authority Kanduku in Mwanza District.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :