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K2.3 billion debt recovery strategy irks vendors

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Disagreements have erupted in Mzuzu City between councillors and vendors after the council yesterday sealed some shops whose owners have stayed close to a year without paying business licence fees.

The councillors, in conjunction with the council’s secretariat, have embarked on an exercise of recovering a total of K2.3 billion which companies, institutions and individuals owe Mzuzu City Council (MCC).

Led by MCC finance committee chairperson, Hewitt Mkandawire, the councillors stormed spots such as the main bus depot where they closed some shops.

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The development angered some vendors who in return hurled insults at the councillors for allegedly failing to clear garbage which has piled up in the depot.

But Mkandawire said they are not moved by the insults and that they will continue sealing shops, offices and houses with unsettled bills because the council’s operations have been affected due to the unpaid fees.

“We make bylaws at the chamber and we realised that enforcement has been a problem. Now, we decided to help the secretariat to ensure we recover the arrears people owe the council so that we can provide the necessary services,” Mkandawire said.

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However, one of the vendors, Kanishas Kasambala, insisted the council should first provide the necessary services before demanding the fees.

“Illegal vending is taking place everywhere outside the markets and depots and garbage is everywhere. Let them work on that before coming to collect the fees,” Kasambala charged.

MCC Public Relations Officer, Macdonald Gondwe, said the exercise the councillors are conducting is aimed at appreciating challenges vendors facie and reminding people to pay city rates, ground rates and businesses licence fees.

During the exercise yesterday, the councillors managed to collect over K600,000, which is double the revenue the council’s secretariat collects per day from the city’s markets.

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