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Mzuzu City Council tussles with vendors

Vendors plying trade inside the Mzuzu Flea Market had a rude awakening yesterday morning when they found their shops and property destroyed by Mzuzu City Council (MCC) authorities.

Some of the vendors who spoke to The Daily Times questioned the council’s action saying they were not notified about the development.

On Monday night council officials, accompanied by police officers, descende on the market and destroyed all structures other than the main market shades structure saying they were built illegally.

“They always assured us that our shops are of proper standards, they never indicated that we are supposed to move nevertheless. If they did that at least we would have safely moved to other places. As it stands we have lost a lot of money in The items and infrastructure destroyed,” said Ambokire Malunga.

Another business person Chimwemwe Mwamba described the incident as malicious, arguing that if it was in good faith they would not have done it at night.

“Am dumbfounded, I just don’t know what to do, they have taken away my life because I earned my bread and butter through this business. Here I am left with nothing,” Mwamba, who estimated her property to have been worth K1 million, said.

Mwamba further wondered how the council was able to collect revenue in city rates from them if indeed they were illegal traders as it claims.

But Assistant Director of Administration at the Mzuzu City Council Christopher Phiri, accused the vendors of not speaking the truth.

He said the decision to demolish the structures did not come in a day, but a resolution from several meetings held with the vendors’ leadership.

“We gave them time to relocate or apply for plots to carry out business but they never complied. And the councils’ development plans cannot stall just because of their complacency,” Phiri explained.

Asked on why they collected market fees from the illegal traders nonetheless, Phiri said: “I should believe that our junior officers responsible for that task were not communicated to on the matter hence the anomaly. I ask the vendors to cooperate because we want to move the Taifa Market to that place.”

Meanwhile, the vendors have threatened legal action against the council.

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