Lilongwe vendors back on the streets

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Street vendors are back with their wares on some streets in Lilongwe just days after President Joyce Banda took over power.

A visit to Malangalanga and Bwalo la njobvu in Lilongwe Old Town bears witness.

In random interviews on Thursday, the majority of the street vendors said the size of their businesses forced them onto streets as they do not require big space to operate.

Hassan, who refused to give his surname, told The Daily Times that he returned to Malangalanga streets after observing that police and city officials were not chasing them any more as had been the case until some three weeks ago.

“We make more sales here in the streets than when we sell from the market. So since no one is chasing us out anymore, I decided to come back here,” Hassan said.

But Moses Dastan has a slightly different story. His capital is minute and so he can only sell a handful items at a time. He says he does not need a big place for his commodities.

“The goods that are here are not for one person. Fifteen or so people will at times bring together their goods so that they become appealing to prospective customers. In true sense, individuals own a small fraction of the wares each,” he said arguing that forcing such a group into the flea market would not help solve their investment capital woes.

“It’s meaningful loans that we need. If the government provided us with loans, we can easily relocate as we might have enough goods to put on display,” Moses said.

Lilongwe City Assembly Public Relations Officer Tamara Chafunya confirmed the development saying the about turn took place as the nation, including the city council, was engrossed in programmes relating to the death of the former president Mutharika.

“We are aware that they are back and we are planning to have a

meeting with them and the police to strategize on the way forward,” said Chafunya.

But Publicity Secretary for Lilongwe Vendors Boniface Chimkanda blamed the council and the police for the development saying that the street vendors are being hosted.

“According to council bye-laws, street vending is illegal and I wonder why all of a sudden are they are not being chased,” said Chimkanda.

“Some of the vendors took advantage of the sudden change of the government and they are saying that President Joyce Banda will understand their situation and, as a mother, won’t chase them away.” He added.

Street vendors were forced into the flea market in Lilongwe following nasty scenes in February last year where women in trousers became targets of attacks by men who would strip them naked. This sparked angry reactions from all corners of life.

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