Malawi on fire: Prioritise security in markets

The unrelenting nefarious acts of setting fire to markets and other property in the cities of Blantyre, Lilongwe and Mzuzu over the last several weeks are a clarion call enough to jostle Presidents Peter Mutharika and his government into a once-and-for-all solution.

Whatever the outcome of findings on causes of the strange fires, electrical faults, cigarette stubs, arson are likely to feature in the report of the high-level cabinet task force tasked to probe. Strict control measures in the installation of electricity in market would check fires from electrical faults. If it is the negligence on fire users or candlelight users or smokers stubs or arsonists, then sensitization campaigns on smokers to do it in designated places and so on and so forth. In some instances, it is highly likely they would recommend good fireproof structures in these markets with security cameras.

It is one thing to have security personnel at a post and yet another to have people with integrity manning the security apparatus at such vulnerable places like markets. One signature tune in these fires is that they happen in the night. Which jumps us into a conclusion that arson other anything else is the major cause of these eerie and impoverishing fires.

Inspector General of Police Loti Dzonsi visits the gutted market
Inspector General of Police Loti Dzonsi visits the gutted market

Mind you, these arsonists live with us in our communities. They might be taking it out on society which seems to have abandoned them. We have become a sick nation. We no longer care about our disadvantaged neighbours, our disillusioned juveniles. Instead of helping them out of bad behaviour we have reinforced the evils in them and have continued to carry on giving them the label waywardness. It’s high time we intensified on a programme to recruit more social workers who should be giving these would-be-arsonists their self-esteem and a some semblance of love and patriotism and not allow the death instincts in them take control of their destinies.

For quick results we may wish to exploit the use of bounties to give a lesson or two to the convicted arsonists and would-be-arsonists. Interestingly, the psychology of bounties cannot be overemphasized. We all know all too well that most notorious criminals in Malawi and elsewhere have been netted with the use of this clichéd approach. Government may wish to explore it. For those caught, stiffer sentences should be meted out on the convicts.

We wish to implore the cabinet task force to focus on security in these markets. Security is the number one preventive measure which the Nyasa Times thinks should be probed too. We may not be able to eliminate these acts of arson. However, security should be our priority number one. A stitch in time saves nine, the English say. So let’s do it now or never.

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