Malawi Defence Force (MDF) soldiers from Moyale Barracks have said they are ready to join the Malawi Police Service (MPS) in moving illegal vendors from Mzuzu City streets to make the city safe and clean.
The development comes after MPS boycotted the exercise for 10 days, as they demanded close to K5.8 million in allowances from the Mzuzu City Council (MCC).
MCC Deputy Mayor, Alexander Mwakikunga, told participants at a stakeholders meeting for vendors’ relocation on Friday that the last exercise was not successful because many vendors did not move out of the streets.
“We are financially crippled and hiring huge numbers of police officers to chase the vendors from the streets is a non-starter to us. Therefore, we have agreed with the police to do the exercise for a week and, thereafter, we will reduce the number so that we can manage to pay their allowances,” Mwakikunga said.
He then said the council has allocated 80 litres of fuel per day for police vehicles that will be used in the exercise.
However, Moyale Barracks Commanding Officer, Colonel Saiford Mandiza Kalisha, said soldiers would join the police on the exercise once their authorities permit them.
“Our role is to provide external security. However, if the authorities ask us to help, we come in and we do not joke. Therefore, tell the illegal vendors to peacefully move out of the streets. Otherwise, we will come without notice and we are ready,” Mandiza Kalisha said.
He added that illegal vending is putting lives of innocent people at risk due to poor sanitation. He said such malpractices should not be tolerated.
Commenting on the development, secretary for vendors committee, Franklin Hara, agreed with both MDF and the council on the need to engage soldiers, arguing some vendors underrate the police.
But Mwakikunga said the council will still engage the MDF if vendors continue underrating the police.