It is no longer news that fire gutted down part of Vigwagwa Market in Mzuzu on 26 September. I arrived at the scene by 21:15 on the day. About five minutes later “fire fighters” from Mzuzu City Council arrived at the scene whether to “calm down the fire or put it off”. That the general public does not know.
Previously, the public has linked market fires to “electric faults’’ or “Mbaula’s that are left burning’’ but you may need to know that this part of Vigwagwa market is not electrified nor has restaurants within.
Unconfirmed reports indicate that this land in question has been sold to Indians no wonder there are efforts from Mzuzu City Council to have vendors evicted from this place, a thing which vendors strongly resist. Vendors have a point here. Besides other reasons, it doesn’t make sense to transfer a four thousand population to a place that can occupy less than a one thousand.
In a previous meeting between the vendors and Mzuzu City council authorities, one official from the City Council is reported to have said that, “the market place has to be set ablaze so that the vendors should feel the punch of resisting relocation”.
In trying to get information from authorities for instance on the cause of the fire, responses we are getting are not only funny but also annoying. For example, while police spokespersons say the fire came because vendors there left some live fires by the time they were closing their businesses, authorities from the city council say, “it is news to them that fire gutted part of Vigwagwa market. And the authorities I mean here include the city Mayor-Councilor William Mkandawire and the Director of Planning one Mr Chirambo.
Now look, the very same city council which sent fire fighters to the scene say, “It does not know that there was a fire accident”. And Mzuzu city council and Malawi police service all are government establishments and it raises eyebrows to have one sector claiming it does not know anything relating to the fire while one sect says it does. Beside that, we also need to know why City Council authorities assigned just a single tanker to the place while they have at least three.
Mzuzu city council also need to clear rumors that suggest that the council is fond of phoning media practitioners whenever ever there are fire establishments instead of rushing to the scene with fire fighters.
We also need authorities to justify the presence of Indian people (who are said to have bought the land) during and the following days of the accident at the scene. We didn’t saw Chinese nationals and not even Burundians, just for instance.
The general public also need to know why the department of Civil Aviation which is just a few meters away from the market in question does not release their fire brigade whenever there is a fire accident at Vigwagwa.
The general public also knows State President His Excellency Professor Author Peter Mutharika, “instituted”, “a Ministerial Committee on fire” to be handling issues relating to fire accident but we are just wondering as to why it seems not to be operational.