Mzuzu City Council loses K8.7 million in uncollected market fees

Cash strapped Mzuzu City Council (MCC) has lost over K8,775,000 in uncollected revenue from Vigwagwa Market which had some shops demolished by the council about a fortnight ago.

Karen Msiska: -Mzuzu City Council spokesman: Vigwagwa market is temporary

After the council demolished the shops in a bid to force vendors relocate to new place, some angry vendors from the market allegedly retaliated by torching the council’s physical planning offices during the night destroying property worth millions and some office information.

In an interview, 13 days after the incident, Vice Chairperson for Vigwagwa Market vendors, Yona Suluti said since the two incidents happened, the council has never gone again to the market to collect daily fees which are pegged at K150 per person.

“No one from the city has come back here to collect market fees since the incident happened and we suspect that they fear that, perhaps, some vendors might revenge,” Suluti said.

He told Malawi News Agency (Mana) that currently, there are 4500 registered vendors in the market who pay a daily fee of K150. This translates to K8, 775,000 lost in the 13 days.

Suluti, however, said on their side, they just wonder why the council was failing to go and collect the market fees.

“To us, the issue of paying for market fees is nothing but trivia; our main concern is the decision by the council to order us to move out of the Vigwagwa Market and settle at the Flea market.

“On that one, we still maintain our stand that we will never relocate to any designated market since we feel like being abused,” Suluti said.

He expressed concern that since 2006, the council has been moving them from one site to another and the vendors feel used and abused as they cannot allow this time around to be relocated again without following set conditions.

“We gave the council a number of conditions like constructing new shops for all the vendors at the new site and constructing a tarmac road which will connect the current market to the Flea market so that vehicles go there even in the rainy season,” he said.

MCC Spokesperson, Karen Msiska maintained that the disputed Vigwagwa Market is temporary and that the council will continue collecting market fees from there.

“The fact that it is temporary does not mean council should not be collecting market fees from there, and the fact that council has placed a market master who collects market fees there does not make that market permanent. Thus, all permanent structures there will be demolished,” Msiska said.

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