Mzuzu Vendors Association has asked Mzuzu City Council to involve Malawi Defence Force (MDF) in the removal of illegal street vendors since the Malawi Police Service (MPS) has failed.
The Mzuzu Vendors Association made the appeal during a stakeholders meeting aimed at finding lasting solutions to illegal vending in the City.
Speaking on behalf of the association’s President, Mzuzu Central Market vendors’ committee secretary, Franklin Hara, said the Council should involve the MDF if it is committed to ending illegal vending.
“We have been working with police officers for many years, but there is no change. Let us try the MDF,” he said.
Hara said many businesses of legitimate vendors are now dying due to illegal vending that has spread throughout the City.
“We pay market fees on a daily basis, while the illegal vendors do not pay anything.”
In reaction, Mzuzu Police Assistant Commissioner Armakio Daka, said the removal of illegal vendors from the streets needs collaborated efforts from all stakeholders.
Daka argued that the problem has come about due to failure of the City Council to pay allowances to officers. We agreed that 150 officers in uniform will be getting a daily allowance of K5,800 each, but the Council only paid for two days, when officers had worked for seven days,” Daka said.
He said illegal vendors are selling their merchandise everywhere in the City due to lack of coordination between the City Council and the Police Service.
“Police officers have not failed. Mzuzu is a small City; we cannot fail to remove illegal vendors, but we need to take care of our officers. Let us be serious,” he said.
Commenting on the matter, Deputy Mayor for Mzuzu City, Councillor Alexander Mwakikunga, said the City Council has put aside K5 million in this new financial year for the illegal vendors sweeping exercise.
Mwakikung assured the public that from Monday next week, Police will be deployed again to carry out the sweeping exercise for a week.
In the past, Mzuzu City Council daily deployed 150 Police officers, but due to financial constraints, the Council intends to reduce this to ten police officers per day with an allowance of K5,800.
Some observers say this is a mockery.
Mzuzu City Council constructed a flea market three years ago, but many vendors are not willing to relocate to the new market; they argue that it is far from the main market and road.