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Vendors rise to demand services

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After undergoing a-five day training in good governance, vendors in Lilongwe urban markets have vowed to demand water, toilets and refuse collection from the Lilongwe City Council.

The vendors confessed that they have suffered in silence for a long time as they lived without water, toilets and with garbage in their markets despite paying market fees daily. They said they did not know that they had the right to demand for such services from the city authorities.

“Markets in Lilongwe urban have no functional toilets, no water. Life is hard to do business there but we have no choice. Vendors take water from home. The environment is very unhygienic and I do not know what will happen when the rain comes,” said Secretary for Lilongwe Urban Vendors Association Joseph Matiki at the end of the training which attracted 60 vendors from Kaliyeka, Chipasula, Chilinde, Ngwenya and Area 23 markets.

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“The training in good governance and democracy has opened our eyes as from here, we are going to press city council to provide those services. We now have the courage to also question the council before they bring any development to the markets. We will make sure that they involve us so that we share the ownership of such projects,” he said.

Asaliya Misi, a mother of two, who sells sweet beer and freezes in Kaliyeka Market, decried the poor hygiene at the market and previous efforts to engage the city council to provide the services yielded nothing.

“We became helpless. But now the training has energised us and we shall see to it that we have water and functional toilets in the markets and that refuse is collected frequently,” Misi said.

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National Initiative for Civic Education (Nice) Trust Lilongwe Urban Officer Hajira Ali told the vendors that it was their right to demand services from authorities while at the same time minding their duties. Ali said the problem with democracy in Malawi is that many people do not see its benefits because of greed of some leaders.

Mtendere Community- Based Organisation Executive Director Tarcizio Chilembwe said the training was prompted by the results of their research which showed that vendors in the urban markets did not have water, functional toilets and that refuse in the markets was never collected by the city council.

“We conducted the study to entrench good governance, transparency and accountability in financial administration of Lilongwe City Council in the markets in this area,” Chilembwe said.

Chilembwe said his organisation is geared to increase citizen participation in the operations and administration of revenue collection in market centres under the council’s jurisdiction, particularly those in Traditional Authority Tsabango.

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