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Minister Visits Mulanje-Limbuli Market Fire Victims

By Blackson Mkupatira , MANA

Phiri speaking to some of the affected vendors at the old Limbuli Market

Minister of Local Government and Rural Development, Ben Phiri, on Saturday, consoled vendors at Limbuli Market in Mulanje where he promised loans to help them get back on their feet following fires that destroyed property worth about K74 Million on February 19 this year.

Speaking during his visit, Phiri said government is saddened by the accident as people have lost businesses and property that enabled them to provide for their families.

He said government is ready to intervene by providing them with loans as capital through the recently launched K13billion Malawi Enterprise Development Fund (MEDEF).

“You will be the first people to benefit from this initiative, as we have been accompanied by officials from MEDEF,” he said.

He however, said this would only be possible if they relocate to the new market government is constructing in the area hence advised them not start rebuilding at the old site.

“You are already spending on reconstruction when soon you will relocate, start rebuilding at the new market while we complete it, after all, I am told some vendors in the area have already started utilizing it,” he said.

He, thereafter, advised the vendors to consider constructing shops using materials that would not catch fire easily and to engage professionals when doing electric wiring, while revealing that the report on the fires states that it started due to an electric fault in one of the shops.

However, Chairperson for the old market, Antony Limitedi said they are willing to move to the new facility only after its completion as the shops are not enough for them to occupy.

“We need about 70 shops so that we can all relocate and government promised us that the market will have a bus depot inside,” he said.

In his response, the minister told the vendors that government aims to fulfill its promise and finish the development in time.

“The problem is that we have two market committees here so it will be hard for any of you to access the loans as they do not have any collateral. We are entrusting each and every one of you to be guard for his or her friend.

He then asked the committees from the old and new market to meet with the district council to resolve issue surrounding relocation saying the sooner they agreed, the sooner they would be able to access the loans.

Meanwhile, Chairperson for the new market, Matias Nachuma has welcomed the development saying the new market has enough space to accommodate  all vendors who ply their business in the area.

“We have been wondering as to when they will relocate so that Limbuli can have one market because for now some are doing their businesses at the old market while we are using the new one which sometimes brings division,” he said.

The fires emanated from an illegal electricity connection from one of the shops destroyed about 19 shops and 29 benches at the market.

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