Business came to a standstill at Mchinji Boma on Monday when hundreds of protesters led by Mchinji businessmen marched and delivered a petition to the council’s secretariat on what they claim is abuse of funds by council secretariat.

The protest which started with a peaceful march from the central business district, turned violent after some protesters closed the main road and burned tyres rendering the Lilongwe-Mchinji M12 road impassable.

Some protesters pelted stones at passing vehicles and most shops remained closed as police fired teargas canisters at the protesters.

Chairperson of Mchinji Market, Wilson Maluwa told Mana they decided to march and petition the council which they accuse of sidelining the community in some of the development projects the council is undertaking.

“We feel there is abuse of resources at the council and many projects [such as] the stadium, the street lights, the slaughter house, council rest house and the taxi port have all stalled and we want the council secretariat to tell us what happened to the development funds,” Maluwa said.

He said his committee has been trying to engage the secretariat but they have not been provided with information.

In the petition, the protesters said they want some of the council heads removed from the office especially from accounts office, public works, lands office and the agriculture division within seven days.

One of the councillors who joined the march Nathan Dhlamini said he decided to join the march to show solidarity and show the secretariat that Mchinji residents are tired of being taken for granted.

Meanwhile Mchinji Police Officer-in-Charge Maximas Bakali said his office has since managed to calm the situation.

“We have managed to arrest some people who we think are just criminals who wanted to take advantage of the situation and loot the shops. The petition was delivered peacefully but these other people just wanted to cause confusion,” he said.

Efforts to talk to the councils officials proved futile as the District Commissioner Richard Hara was not available and the District Administration Officer Pickford Manyungwa who received the petition on behalf of the council refused to be interviewed.

Mchinji received K107 million for development and the council planned to renovate the council’s guest house, street lights and rehabilitation of the Mchinji market among other projects.mana

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