Residents in Lilongwe have asked the City Council to enforce by-laws on illegal vending and also to put regulations on the motorcycle and bicycle taxi ranks in the city.
The residents fear the proliferation of illegal vending and opening of motorbike and bicycle taxi ranks could result in rising cases of crime in the city.
They made the remarks on Sunday during the New Area Town Hall Meeting, which the Catholic Commission of Justice and Peace of Archdiocese of Lilongwe (CCJP Lilongwe) organized in partnership with Oxfam Malawi and with funding from Tilitonse Foundation.
A representative of the New Area 43 block leaders, Dr. Rodney Kalanda, said illegal businesses such as the opening of residential gardens for public events and opening of taxi ranks in undesignated places could potentially compromise security in residential areas.
“Our fear is that someone with evil mind can take advantage of the public events that take place in residential gardens to spy on our security and see where the loopholes are so that one day he or she should come to carry out their heinous criminal acts. Of course, we do appreciate that every Malawian has the right to do business as a means to earn a living. But our expectation is that such businesses need to be done in designated areas,” said Kalanda.
Kalanda – a medical doctor by profession – also took advantage of the town hall meeting to report that drug and substance abuse is on the rise in the area, requiring authorities to do something to address the problem.
The residents raised a number of issues, including poor road network in residential areas, absence of street lights as posing security threat, lack of health centres in most townships and lack of proper waste management and poor sanitation, as major challenges affecting their lives.
Lilongwe City Council deputy mayor, Richard Banda, said the town hall meeting is vital as it creates a platform where the residents and city father are engaging in serious discussion on how to deal with the challenges the city faces amid rapid population growth and unprecedented urbanization.
Banda asked the residents to collaborate with council in working out lasting solutions to the problems.
“We are very glad that the rights-holders have been very open to voice out their concerns. This is important as it will help the council, together with the residents themselves, to find lasting solutions to these problems. I wish to emphasise that as much as we are public officers, we, too, are affected by these problems,” he said.
Secretary for CCJP Lilongwe Noel Mtonza said the major objective of the project is to empower the residents with knowledge and skills so that they are able to hold duty-bearers accountable and to demand better quality services from their council.
Mtonza said, so far, the Commission is impressed with the level of empowerment the project has created among the residents.
“So far so good! We are very happy to see the most senior council officials and directors coming down from their offices to meet the residents and discuss crucial issues. This is very commendable and that’s what we envisaged when we initiated the project: to see the city fathers and residents engaging and agreeing on how to deal with challenges affecting them,” he said.
The CCJP Lilongwe’s Urban Governance Project is phasing out in few days, but both the council and the residents are asking for an extension so that more communities are reached with empowerment and capacity building interventions.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :