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Poor sanitation in Blantyre markets

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As various stakeholders, organisations and individuals are taking a bold step to ensure that there is proper sanitation in the country, people plying their trade in various markets of Blantyre have expressed worry over poor sanitation in the markets.

In random interviews with The Daily Times, the people in markets like Limbe, Mbayani Bangwe and Chirimba, have blamed Blantyre City Council (BCC) of failing their work.

According to a textile merchant, David Kaponda in Limbe Market, the Central Business district is becoming populated and he wondered why there are few sanitary facilities.

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“Literally, I am not impressed with the conditions of hygiene in this market.

I do my business just close to a place where people urinate and of course, there is a pile of waste beside it.

This simply implies that there is need for enough toilets to match the growing numbers of people doing business here. Again on the management of waste, we might take the initiative to sweep around our premises, but where do we dump the waste? In the end the rubbish is thrown everywhere for example in the river,” said Kaponda.

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Another banana business man in Chirimba market, Vincent Mpowola, decries the fact that the market has only one gentleman assigned by the city council to help cleaning up the market.

“Of course we do our part by cleaning where we do our business, but what surprises me is that there is only one man who puts the rubbish into the garbage bin. It also takes time for the council to collect the garbage from here to the dumping site,” said Mpowola.

Ruth Kaputanjuchi of Mbayani Market and Lawrence Evason Mtalimanja wondered where the money collected through market fees goes amid shortage of public toilets.

Environmental Health lecturer at Malawi Polytechnic, Save Kumwenda says poor sanitation in a market place is among other things perpetrated by increase in population.

“In a place where there are a lot of people, there is always a struggle for access to sanitary facilities. The only way to arrest poor sanitation is the provision of adequate facilities and regulations as well,” he said.

Public Relations Manager for BCC Anthony Kasunda said they are fully aware that the council owns the markets and he compared themselves to landlords.

“I think the role of market users should be likened to a tenant in a house. When I build a house and you are the tenant, you don’t expect me to start looking after the toilet or sweeping your bedrooms. There are responsibilities that you have to undertake and the landlord has also responsibilities. I am only supposed to look after capital investments.

“In terms of increasing the number of toilets, we have a programme within the council to build toilets in the city and some of the toilets will be in the markets. But in terms of caring for those toilets, it is the responsibility of market users,” said Kasunda.

Environmental activist, Alifeyo Mwalukomo said despite the council being the landlords of the markets, it is everybody’s duty to take care of the toilets.

He however said it was worrisome if there are indeed few sanitary facilities in the markets.

“If there are no toilets and other sanitary facilities in the markets then the council is failing. The facilities have to be provided for and they have to be functional,” he said.

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