Two Sundays ago I commented on the frustrating contradiction that seems to have been embraced by the Lilongwe City Council and all traffic authorities in the capital city. A lot of money was spent to construct the Lilongwe bypass to divert heavy-goods trucks as one way of decongesting traffic, yet city authorities are failing to enforce the bylaws that stop truckers from using inner-city roads.
But in as far as roads are concerned, non-enforcement of bylaws regulating the use of the Lilongwe bypass is not the only responsibility that the LCC is failing at. The council is also unable to enforce bylaws that stop residents from using residential streets as car parking yards.
A few years ago, LCC embarked on upgrading residential streets and main access roads that connect different parts of the city. While this upgrade continues and we are all enjoying good roads, I have noticed that some residents have selfishly turned the streets into their own private car parks.
It is not uncommon when you drive in different neighborhoods to find vehicles such as buses and trucks abandoned by the street-side. In most instances, these abandoned vehicles take up most of the street narrowing it to practically one lane.
It would not be honest to suggest that the owners of these vehicles are unaware of the inconveniences they cause to motorists and pedestrians alike. However, they continue to do this because they are able to get away with it. If anything they bring even more ready-to-discard vehicles and practically turn the streets into junkyards.
It would also be dishonest to submit that city authorities are unaware of this because they pass by these stationary trucks and buses every day in Kawale, Area 18, Falls Estate, Area 36, Senti, and Area 25, to mention a few residential areas.
Is our city council really that powerless that it cannot summon these selfish residents and force them to remove their vehicles from residential streets? I know some times LCC does not move until it gets a complaint from residents, but this is one of those occasions where it is clear that what is happening is wrong and those in authority should simply act.
For the sake of neighbourliness and harmony, most residents would not go to the council and report on their neighbours, no matter how inconvenienced they might be by some resident’s behaviour. It is important that the council should just do its job and act.
I have suggested before that instead of always complaining that funding from Capital Hill is inadequate, LCC should find creative ways of raising revenue. Imposing fines on residents who have turned streets into car parks is one way. Not only would this be an effective deterrent, but it would also be a very easy way to make money for the councils.
Our city council authorities should remember that all residents equally pay taxes that finance the maintenance of streets, so it is extremely unfair that some residents should abuse their right to these streets. Nobody should be allowed to use residential streets as personal car parks or garages.
Marcus Muhariwa is a trained journalist and communications professional. He has a passion for writing on social issues.