Mzuzu City Council (MCC) has lost thousands of Kwacha worth of revenue following a two-month market fee payment boycott by some vendors, it has been learnt.
Some vendors plying their business at Mzuzu main market started boycotting payment of market fees two months ago due to what they claim as the council’s failure to fight illegal vending and have vowed not to pay the fees until the city council responds to their needs.
Mzuzu City Council’s Public Relations Officer, Karen Msiska, said in an interview the boycott by the vendors is negatively affecting the council as it is losing a lot of money.
However, Msiska was non-committal to disclose how much revenue the council has lost since the boycott started, saying it is difficult to quantify because dynamics change from time to time depending on season.
“The [city] council relies on locally generated revenue for its operations like salaries for its employees, paying utilities and collection of wastes in various localities. The other money (Funding) we receive is tied to specific projects and even when people have not been paid, we cannot use that money. So, non-payment of what is supposed to be part of the locally generated revenue is a huge drawback to the council,” he said.
Currently, out of 14 sections of the market, about five sections only pay their market fees. This is because others are frustrated by the MCC’s failure to completely chase illegal vendors.
Msiska added that the council stopped deploying police officers to chase out vendors vending in undesignated places due to the high cost incurred in the exercises.
He said in a single day, the council was spending K580 thousand to pay allowances to police officers to carry out the operation.
“Having noticed that deploying 150 police officers to chase the illegal vendors was costing about K580, 000 a day, we felt it was unsustainable owing to the council’s financial situation,” he said.
The city PRO however said they are continuously engaging the vendors on the matter to get them out of undesignated places. According to Msiska, there is also a resolution to impose spot fines on all those found trading in undesignated places.
Vice Secretary for Mzuzu central market, Master Katete said the boycott was a way of getting the council’s attention on the issue.
“It’s not that we enjoy dodging market fees, but it’s our way of speaking out to the council because it has been a longtime since people started selling illegally outside the main market, which [negatively] affects our businesses in designated places inside the market,” said Katete.
He continued, “We can’t keep on paying the market fee while others are trading outside the main market without paying, and the fact that illegal vendors surround the main market makes it hard for us to do our businesses,” said Katete.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :