Leader of opposition in Parliament Lazarus Chakwera has proposed that government adopt deliberate measures, including insurance, to help compensate the business community in case of disasters such as market fires.
Chakwera, who is Malawi Congress Party (MCP) president, made the suggestion yesterday when he visited grieving vendors whose merchandise got burnt in a fire that gutted Lilongwe’s Tsoka Flea Market on Tuesday night.
His visit came a day after President Peter Mutharika, whom he hailed for being vigilant in moving to quell what he called would have been total chaos, met the victims on Wednesday.
Chakwera proposed, among other measures, that local councils should ensure that all registered vendors plying their trade in the country’s main towns and cities be on mandatory insurance policies.
He said: “I believe this is a long-lasting solution as it seems these fires don’t want to part [ways] with us, and our markets. What is more baffling is that they tend to come in quick succession. The other day, it was Mzuzu and today it’s Lilongwe. No government can put up with that. It’s just overwhelming and unsustainable.”
Chakwera pledged a K1 million donation to help alleviate the pain of the vendors over the loss. He also promised to raise the issue when Parliament convenes in September for the national budget session.
In his address, which mainly was appealing for calm, Chakwera said: “I know it’s not enough. No donation is, but I just felt I had to do something.”
The Lilongwe Vendors Association has since expressed gratitude over the gesture.
Some irate vendors on Tuesday clashed with police, bringing business to a standstill in a section of Lilongwe’s Old Town.