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Vendors defy government

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Vendors in Lilongwe Central Market have refused to relocate to Lilongwe Community Centre Ground, as they wait for the reconstruction of the market, following Friday morning inferno.

It is understood that government issued the directive in a meeting it had with the vendors on Saturday. Almost everything that was in the market was destroyed by the fire.

And after giving in to their demands, government gave the vendors strict instructions on how they should reconstruct their stalls.

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But during The Daily Times visit to the market on Wednesday, it was seen there was no strict adherence to the conditions. It was seen that the only road on which vehicles can easily pass is the one connecting the two main gates.

One of the leaders in the market, Emmanuel Nsetso, said they opposed government’s directive to move them out of the market because they knew it would take long to rebuild the market.

“They initially told us to move out of the market so that a modern market should be constructed here. We said ‘no’. We know how long government processes are and moving out of this place it would take us many years to come back. We, therefore, decided to be here while adhering to the set standards of the type of structures to be erected,” Nsetso said.

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Ministry of Local Government Spokesperson, Muhlabase Mughogho, confirmed the meeting but said all measures have been put in place to make sure that all what was agreed in the Saturday meeting is adhered to.

“We agreed that when they are constructing their kiosks, they should use bricks and other items which cannot easily catch fire. We also agreed that government has plans to construct a new market. Because we believe in discussion, we allowed them to proceed with the construction, with strict adherence to the set condition,” she said.

She said apart from the bricks, the market should also have a fire hydrant and roads which can make it easy for vehicles to pass.

“The market is being constructed with close supervision of Lilongwe City Council official. But the key thing is that the people should be prepared to move out once government is ready with construction of a new market,” she added.

She was however not clear when construction of the new market will start.

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