BCC trashes ‘small market-space talk’ on street vending
Blantyre City Council (BCC) has said it is not true that some vendors continue plying their trade along the streets and other busy but illegal places within the city due to lack of space in the markets.
The council has since called on residents to stop thinking of Limbe and Blantyre as the only markets in the city amid its efforts to crack down on street vending in the city.
But the vendors have vowed to continue plying their trade on the streets despite various abuses they suffer at the hands of the City Council patrol officers as the designated markets are not enough for all vendors.
“We are being treated like slaves or foreigners in our own country. The City Council officials always come on their patrol vehicles and if you are unlucky on that particular day the city council employees will beat you and then snatch your merchandise, which they normally take for their own personal use,” Stella Tebulo, who stays in Mbayani, said.
Tebulo, who during the time of the interview was selling groundnuts at Ginnery Corner in Blantyre, said although she has been losing merchandise to council rangers, she will not move out of the streets.
“When we are told to go to designated markets, they place us away from the areas where many customers are and in the end we go home with nothing,” she said.
The 14-year-old Yohane Davie, who sells boiled Irish potatoes, described street vending as a psychological torture.
“We move around while thinking about the patrol officers. As a result, we miss some customers which affects our daily sales. They tell us to do our businesses within the markets but when I visit the market, I do not see any space for us,” Davie said.
He claimed that when they get arrested, the vendors are ordered to pay K10, 000 to buy their freedom apart from losing their merchandise.
BCC Public Relations Manager, Anthony Kasunda, said it is not correct that Blantyre City markets do not have enough spaces.
“The problem is that most of the vendors would want to occupy the Blantyre Flea Market deserting the markets in locations. You will be surprised to find out that most markets in locations are empty,” Kasunda said.
He said the Blantyre City by-laws encourage the residents to do business to earn a living but the business has to be done in designated places and in accordance with the laws regulating its conduct.
“Street vending is not allowed and this is not new. All the vendors are aware of this and that is why they run away when they see our enforcement officers,” he said.
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