Despite President Peter Mutharika’s State-of-the-Nation Address made on Tuesday evening in which he warned Admarc officials against selling maize to vendors, a spot-check The Daily Times conducted in different parts of the country yesterday established that the scarcity of the staple grain still persists.
Meanwhile, Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) officials on Tuesday took control of Mangochi Agricultural Development and Marketing Corporation (Admarc) Depot following Mutharika’s warning.
The depot on Tuesday afternoon received only 10 tonnes of the staple grain and by Thursday afternoon, people were still fighting to get the commodity which the corporation is rationing by selling only 10 kilogrammes per buyer.
The situation, however, went out of hand on Thursday afternoon after some DPP officials and police officers went to Mangochi Admarc depot to monitor maize sales where they eventually ordered the closure of the market, two hours before its official closing time, in order to control sales.
The closure, however, did not please some buyers who suspected that party officials wanted to buy the commodity at night.
But when asked to comment on the issue, DPP Spokesperson, Francis Kasaila, said he was not aware of such developments.
“Let me go on the ground to find out what has triggered my men to take that action and I will come back to you with concrete information. I hope that will be in order,” said Kasaila.
However, a visit to Chilomoni Admarc depot in Blantyre in the late hours of yesterday found no maize available as residents confirmed that the stock had just ended around midday while Admarc officials said they were expecting another delivery later the same day.
At Zingwangwa Admarc depot in Blantyre, however, stock was still available, and, according to buyers, it had been available for the past three days. However, the main challenge was that the market is usually invaded by buyers from various places such as Bvumbwe.
Regardless of the challenges, the residents were, however, grateful to their Member of Parliament, Allan Ngumuya, who they said introduced a ticket system where individuals are getting a single ticket a day which enables them to get a receipt and thereafter buy maize.
Ngumuya said the strategy is also viable in dealing with vendors who have been coming to the market in the past.
One of the buyers The Daily Times found at Zingwangwa Admarc depot, Mervis Chituwa, alleged that Admarc officials at that selling point were selling maize to vendors during broad daylight.
Apart from that, Chituwa alleged that Admarc officials also tamper with the scale in full view of everyone, a development that makes the buyers to purchase maize which does not match the amount of money they pay.
“These officials are issuing five or seven tickets to a vendor who is also not in the queue in full view of underprivileged people. We would like to call upon government to root out these officials if indeed it is serious in dealing with this problem,” she said.
In Lilongwe chaotic scenes yesterday characterized the selling of maize at Kawale, the only Admarc depot which had the commodity within the capital city during the last two days.
Long queues began to form at the depot as early as 4am yesterday according to tired-looking and angry men and women who spoke to The Daily Times at the outlet which is situated next to Masintha ground.
A visit to other depots within the city such as Chinsapo, Area 25, Area 36 and Mchesi found that the outlets had remained closed for over a week now.
Lenitta Chisale, who resides in Area 23, told this paper that she arrived at Kawale Admarc depot as early as 3.30 in the morning but up to 4 in the afternoon, she had not yet purchased the scarce 20kg bag of the staple grain
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