A joint operation by Lilongwe City Council and Vendors Association officials to stop business people from selling their merchandise along the streets on Friday turned violent.

This, bringing sad memories of July 20 2011 as vendors stoned them, led to closure of the Capital City’s trading areas of Malangalanga and Bwalo la njobvu.

Early in the morning, a group of vendors arrived in town to find an armed anti-riot police vehicle parked at the Malangalanga and Kamuzu Procession roads junction.

Lilongwe City officials dressed in bright light green reflectors asked the early comers not to sell their wares along the streets.

This did not go down well with many and despite some of the traders starting to sell early and the main market opening as usual around 6am, the angry vendors who had regrouped, returned and started pelting city council officials and police officers with stones.

Police chased the vendors, but did not use teargas and no shops were looted as in previous cases.

From 8.30am, police, though not in huge numbers, patrolled the streets, but shop owners, fearing a repeat of past experiences closed their businesses and hurried back home.

By 10am, order had been restored and the main and Tsoka markets had reopened and traffic started flowing. However, police and city officials maintained their presence.

Central Region police spokesperson John Namalenga confirmed the operation, saying it was done in collaboration with city council and the Vendors Association as previously announced and that the police were only providing security.

“Full details of the operation will be provided in the afternoon whether some people have been arrested and if there are damages. Right now, it is an ongoing operation,” said Namalenga.

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