At a time when Blantyre City is leaking of sewer and experiencing poor waste management and street lighting, the city’s Mayor Wild Ndipo and his deputy Joseph Makwinja have convinced other councillors to approve a purchase of a Toyota Prado TX for the mayor and a Toyota Fortuner for the deputy.
Last week Friday, the councillors passed a resolution of a budget worth K200 million for two vehicles for the mayor and his deputy and a 150 percent salary increment for councillors.
Malawi News has established that a Toyota Prado TX at Toyota Malawi is going at K92,305,800 while a Toyota Fortuner 2.8 Auto is going at K68,912,500.
Efforts to speak to Councillor Ndipo for him to justify the extravagance at a time social services to residents in the city are low proved futile as he could neither pick up his mobile phone nor return missed calls on several occasions.
However, Blantyre City Council (BCC) spokesperson Antony Kasunda said the matter is simply a proposal which is subject to approval by Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development.
“The council can make a proposal, it is not final. As it is now, the council is not buying a car for the mayor and his deputy, we are not increasing councillor’s honoraria until and unless government approves.
“So, I am not commenting further on this issue, you can only ask me about where the money will come from only when government approves. We can be saying things here and yet maybe government will not approve,” he said.
The proposal by Blantyre City councillors to increase their honoraria from K120,000 to K300,000 comes at a time when their counterparts in Lilongwe and Mzuzu city councils are receiving K80,000 and K70,000 respectively.
Last year, some concerned councillors in the country asked government to hike their monthly pay from K100,000 to K350,000, translating to 250 percent raise.
However, in an interview Thursday, leader of the concerned councillors Alexander Cosmas said the proposal by BCC shows an element of greed arguing some expenditures are not necessary.
“Of course, the councillors need an improved life; however, some expenditures can be described as selfish simply because they are living in the town side,” he said.
A spot check by Malawi News in several townships and residential areas within the city has established several hygiene challenges that put human life at risk, especially during the rainy season.
There have been several septic tanks releasing sewage, probably due to blockages of the sewers.
In unbelievable circumstances, we witnessed toilet wastes from the septic tanks overflow into roads whereby road users on foot have no choice but to step on them.
One such instance is a septic tank that has been open and overflowing for several months, the flow has been mixing with rainwater into rivers in which several residents down the streams use.
Some of them use streams’ water to wash dishes, clothes and sand mining.
“We have hygiene challenges in Blantyre, you can take a look at how sewages are flowing, and we are deliberately putting our lives on danger.
“We complain that there are no drugs in our hospitals but we, as individuals, are failing to practise hygiene to prevent sicknesses. Take a look at how the sewage is flowing, this is an attractive sight of diseases such as cholera,” complained one of the Blantyre residents who witnessed the flow of one of the septic tanks at one of the buildings housing shops in the city.
The situation is similar in different markets within the city.
Any person who has ever visited markets in areas including Chirimba, Ndirande and Chemusa would appreciate how far behind the city is in terms of waste management.
When one visits the markets, if he does not witness an overflowing waste bin, then at least will see garbage piled on the ground mounted by flies – carriers of multiple disease causing bacteria.
For a long time, residents of the city have been complaining of the services offered by the council as compared to the revenues it collects on a daily basis.
In September last year, after surprise visits to Limbe and Kachere markets in the city, Minister of Local Government Ben Phiri gave BCC a seven-day ultimatum to clean up wastes dumped in Limber River.
Mudi, Nasolo, Likhubula, Naperi and South Lunzu are among other rivers polluted in the city.