Police fired teargas Friday to disperse rowdy street vendors in the Malawi capital, Lilongwe, as trouble erupted following fire that has gutted the main market, burning billions of money in merchandise in the early morning inferno.
The roads leading to the Old Town were closed in the morning as vendors protested angrily over the late coming of Lilongwe City council fire fighters to put off the inferno.
The fire started at 3 am and fire figters came two hours later.
The cause of the fire is yet to be established.
The fire, according to eye-witnesses, started from the northern part of the market allegedly from the bottle stores along the Devil Street
Shops in the Old Town remain closed as tension remain high although most police officers have now withdrawn.
Eye-witnesses said the vendors began pelting fire fighting engines.
Public Relations Officer for Lilongwe City Council, Tamara Chafunya, acknowledged that that the council’s fire fighting engines were stoned .
But she said “the time the fire engines were stoned was a second time because they left the fire scene was around three in the morning in order to refill water in the tanks.”
Home Affairs minister Grace Chiumia and police chief Lexten Kachama visited the gutted market so too some cabinet ministers.
The market comprises, amongst other sections, fish, hardware which had electronic equipment, motor vehicle spare parts and tinsmith, clothes where also tailors were operating from, The tight stalls’ popularly known as Mpanipani which housed merchants selling merchandise mostly from outside the country such as South Africa, Tanzania and Zambia.