November 23, 2020

Tears of Vendors in Lilongwe city

For a decade now men and women who ply their businesses in the streets of Lilongwe have to endure the hardships they encounter from both the law enforcers and the city council workers since they do it in undesignated places.

Lilongwe Vendors selling their various merchandize

One may wonder why do the vendors keep on selling in streets despite all the efforts the current regime and the past regimes though the ministry of local government show that they want to deal with this tendency completely? The answers to this question and other questions that the public has to vendors were answered by some of the street vendors in Lilongwe old town.

A young man identified as Dickson Jamali who resides in area 36 is one of the street vendors in the capital city for two years . Jamali explains that he sales second hand clothes but the business has slowed down since 2019 to now, he said that he used to sale pairs of trousers, skirts and dresses at a good price but this time around he only manages to sale trousers and in most cases he makes unbearable losses caused by low demand on the market. ” I sometimes go back home without selling anything, I stand here the whole day and yield nothing and this has affected my way of living because I struggle a lot with bills at home and I have no one to look up to who can provide for me and my family, I am really failing my duty as a man, “Jamali lamented.

Quite risky for vendors to make ends meet in Lilongwe streets

Another street vendor also pointed out some challenges he faces whilst conducting his business in the streets of the capital city.

Dickson indicates that being chased from the streets by the police and the city council workers is the main problem he and his fellow street vendors have been facing as when they are caught they spend days in police cells which in turn affect their families. “It is hard to put business back on its feet after being released from the cell because we are told to pay some money, if we want to come out and this means that the money that is meant to help push the business is used for bail bond, ” Dickson narrated.

One may question why do the street vendors carry on doing this despite the hell they go through? Why can’t they go and do business in legal grounds? In trying to answer some of these questions the vendors indicated that lack of space in the free market is worsening street vending woes in Lilongwe.

According to Mr Mphepo who also agreed on the points his fellow vendors mentioned he said that everyone who operates inside the free market has his/her on place and many selling on the street are those who don’t have space to do their business in the market but still can not give up on their families and their responsibilities, hence risking to do business in the streets.

Lilongwe city council asked to find a lasting solution to street vending woes

Despite the challenges they face the Lilongwe vendors seem to be very optimistic that this challenge can be history if both the local government and the vendors themselves meet and address the issues the vendors have and come up with solutions that will be implemented to bring real change rather than chasing them away from streets each and every time.

The vendors show concern on the tendency of being ill treated by the city council workers and even the law enforcers saying that this is unlawful and must not be tolerated in 21st Century.

Furthermore they asked the government to quickly fulfill its promise of building a mega market for vendors so that all vendors can sell inside the market thereby ending street vending.

Making their final plea to the authorities, vendors in Lilongwe said they will appreciate if the government provide loans to these small scale business operators so that they can boost their businesses and street vending will come to an end.

By Temwa Nyirenda

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