Zomba city shop owners refuse rehabilitation

Despite several reminders from Zomba City Council (ZCC) to rehabilitate their ancient business structures around the city, most proprietors and tenants have remained adamant thwarting authorities’ efforts to perfect the city’s outlook.

Most buildings in the city do not conform to the city bylaws as they were constructed before and just after Malawi’s independence in 1964 by the colonial masters.

Zomba City Council Acting Director of Administration, Alick Chima, said in an interview with Nyasa Times that the development was regressing the council’s endeavours to improve the scenery and hygiene in order to match the standards of a city.

The central business district (CBD) of Zomba City, Malawi’s newest but relatively bigger than Mzuzu, is characterized by ancient buildings most of which title-holders are based outside Malawi like the United Kingdom and India.

Zomba city shops

Apart from maintenance of buildings, Chima also observed that while their sister cities of Blantyre, Lilongwe and Mzuzu have managed to drive away all street vendors to their designated market places Zomba was yet to achieve that.

However, the official indicated that the main problem with Zomba City was not street vending but mobile hawkers who are all over the city’s prohibited places selling their merchandises against the city bylaws.

“We are really trying our best but our efforts are being frustrated by these traders,” lamented the acting Director of Administration.

The shop owners and tenants were ordered to refurbish their shops to not less than two story buildings in order to make the city look attractive to visitors, as also directed by former President Bingu wa Mutharika, but this remains a daydream.

But Chima said it was difficult to seal such buildings since proprietors do not live in Malawi although time was running out to improve the city as demanded by the Local Government Act.

One of the tenants for Versyani Brothers Building, a Mr Zuber attributed the problem of not rehabilitating the buildings to lack of financial capacity.

“Buildings require good economic background but most of the structures here are run by estate agents who are responsible for  rental collection, maintenance and development as directed by the proprietors and that becomes a problem,” explained Zuber.

However, despite accommodating scores of old buildings the city has of late been witnessing some new infrastructural developments which is adding beauty to its landscape.

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