Karonga vendors plan street protests over market fee hike

Vendors, who ply their trade in and around Karonga market in the Malawi’s northern border district, are threatening to hold street protests against the recent 25% market fee hike.

The vendors argue that the market fee hike has negatively impacted on the survival of their business as many of them cannot afford to pay the daily fee.

According to the letter from members of Karonga Market Craft Centre, to the Urban Administration Officer, seen by Nyasa Times, the increment is mistimed as it has come when the traders are still feeling the pinch of another fees increase of 100% last year which the district officials attributed to the devaluation of Kwacha.

“What we know is that the laws do not allow the council to increase the market revenue beyond 50% but last year we experienced 100% increment in the name of devaluation. We did nothing and now its 25%, is the devaluation only in Karonga?” queried Kondwani Simfukwe Chairman of Karonga Market Craft Centre.

Market fee up:Produce sale at local market in Malawi
Market fee up:Produce sale at local market in Malawi

Simfukwe said with the increment, traders who were paying K80 are paying K100 per day.

He added that vendors are surprised seeing that other councils such as Rumphi, Mzuzu, Mchinji, Zomba and some many others are not increasing the market fees.

“What we know is that our government is promoting poor people to be doing small businesses but with the market charges given, we cannot manage which will render down our businesses in long run worsening our well-being,” said Simfukwe.

He further accused Karonga district council, saying it is not doing anything to increase the standards of the market.

“Our market does not have bins that we can be using to throw the litters, some places are kept without being swept which is a threat to our health and worse still there is congestion in our market,” said Simfukwe.

Urban Administrator for Karonga district council, Geoffrey Mkandawire argued that market fees rise are done every year.

“For us to properly conduct our duties we need enough funds to manage the market that is why we increase the market fee.”

He blamed the vendors on issue of sanitation in the market, saying they are the ones destroying utensils which help keep the market clean.

“We buy bins periodically but some are stolen and some are destroyed because of their carelessness and we don’t have a choice apart from buying some in December,” said Mkandawire.

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