Vendors back in Blantyre city streets, Council plays it cool

Vendors have started clawing back to the streets of Malawi’s commercial capital Blantyre, defying the city  authorities who seem too relaxed to unleash the arm of law to restore order.

The vendors have started re-invading the streets barely four months after they were involved in a fierce free-for-all battle with police and Blantyre City Council (BCC) officers who tried to clear them out.

The current development is raising security fears with the city quickly rolling back to its untidy age.

But in an interview, Blantyre City Council (BCC) Chief Executive Officer, Ted Nandolo played it cool, saying his office was aware of the issue and would deal with it.

Nandolo, however, blamed the vendors and the city dwellers for failing to adhere to the enacted by-laws, arguing “They always wait for authorities to enforce the laws on them instead of taking the initiative to make our city clean”.

He added: “To remove vendors from the streets, it’s something that can’t be done by the council alone; we have to work with the police on that. And we are currently in talks with our friends in police before we make a move”.

Street trading slowly coming back in Blantyre
Street trading slowly coming back in Blantyre

Nandolo said they have been in talks with Southern Region Police for a while and was hopeful of working out a strategy on how to deal with the vendors.

“The talks have, however, halted because the officer in-charge has been transferred but once the new one is in office, we will resume and strategize on how best to deal with the problem.

“But the responsibility of keeping our city clean should not rest on the council alone, it should be for everyone. Everyone including vendors need to be responsible and follow stipulated laws rather than fighting with authorities instead,” Nandolo explained.

Trading on the country’s cities’ streets is prohibited and is punishable by law.

In 2006, government under Operation Dongosolo successfully removed the vendors from the streets after a long battle, and were relocated to flea markets.

The operation managed to restore order and sanity to the country’s cities.

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