After hours of running battles between two camps of vendors in Malawi’s capital Lilongwe on Tuesday, a declaration was finally reached between police, Lilongwe City Council (LCC) and vendors representatives to continue with the operation of removing street traders for the next three days.
Earlier on Tuesday, the country’s capital briefly turned into war zone after vendors from the designated market and street traders engaged each other in violent running battles that resulted in police firing teargas to restore order.
The development came after months of public outcry on the uncontrolled street vending that forced hundreds of furious vendors from the flea market to take to the streets and chase their colleagues who ply their trade there.
The disgruntled market vendors pulled down their colleagues’ structures and destroyed assorted merchandises bringing the city into turmoil.
Shops around Lilongwe old town were closed while a few others were reportedly looted as the two vendors’ camps exchanged missiles.
The discontented flea market vendors claimed their sales were slowing down because customers were no longer visiting their places opting for street commodities.
After the clashes, officials from the LCC called for a meeting later in the day between the police and representatives of the vendors where an agreement was reached to have the operation (of removing illegal traders) sustained for three more days until every vendor is out of the streets.
“We have agreed to run an enforcement team for the next three days to make sure that vendors do not trade along the streets of Lilongwe,” said Julius Tsokolani, LCC Director of Engineering who chaired the stakeholders meeting at the civic center offices.
“We are requesting all vendors to comply with this arrangement to avoid use of force and eventual loss of property.”
The director also implored Lilongwe residents to only buy goods from the designated market and ignore street traders to make their job easier.
Lilongwe Vendors Association Chairperson, Yelayela Soko, also confirmed the development saying the resolution made at the stakeholders meeting would resolve the matter.
He also backed the flea market vendors’ action arguing they were not wrong to go into the streets because their businesses were being affected due to delays by LCC officials to remove the illegal traders from the streets.
But the street vendors claim the flea market is too small to accommodate all the vendors plying their trade around Lilongwe old town area hence their decision to invade the streets.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :