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Dream fades for Makoka Market in Thyolo

By Regina Kadzuwa, VOA Reporter

Authorities in Thyolo district are mum on the future of the ‘state-of-the art’ Mphanje Market construction project which is located in the area of Traditional Authority (TA) Kapichi in Malawi’s tea growing district.

If completed market project would provide a very conducive environment for local farmers to showcase their bountiful harvests to potential buyers who patronizes the market from Blantyre, Mulanje and Chiradzulu.

The dream to have the state-of-the art market at the facility started way during the youthful state of Malawi’s democracy, but the dream was almost  came to pass in 2019 when the foundation stone was laid at the facility only the project to stale four years down the calendar after change of regime.

The regime changed from Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) to Malawi Congress Party (MCP) call it ‘Tonse Alliance if you like’ abruptly, and with it, the priorities of the government shifted. The construction funds allocated for the market were abruptly halted, leaving the structure incomplete and the dreams of the community shattered, oh what a dream fade.

Today, Mphanje Market stands like an abandoned fortress, engulfed by the encroaching wilderness. What was once a symbol of hope and progress has now become a neglected relic. The vendors who had hoped to find prosperity within its walls now tend to their makeshift stalls in the open, exposed to the elements.

Farmers struggle to sell their produce without a centralized location, and the merchants find it increasingly challenging to sustain their businesses.

In an interview with VOA reporter, Group village head Muhoma said Khonjeni villagers who once filled with anticipation now bears the weight of disappointment over the stalled project.

In his wisdom, the custodian of culture GVH Muhona said the abrupt regime change had not only halted the construction of the market but had also dashed the collective dreams of a brighter future.

One of the Vendors at the market, Ganizani Yusuf pleaded with the authorities to reconsider resuming work at the facility.

As the market remains abandoned and overgrown, the community watches in despair, hoping for a change of fortunes that will once again transform Mphanje Market into the thriving heart of Khonjeni they had envisioned.

In a separate interview with Director of Finance for Thyolo district council, Andrew Jafari expressed ignorance of the project.  He said was not aware on how much was allocated for the market construction project.

The then Minister of Local Government Dr. Ben Phiri launched Mphanje Market and Bus Depot  construction  project in March 2020.

During the launch D. Phiri said Mphanje Market will to have amenities like five blocks with 40 rooms for businesses such as grocery shops, toilets, butcheries and other five big rooms to be used for other economic activities in the area.

J and J Contractors, a firm which won the contract for the project, is on the record to have promised to finish the work within the given period of one year.

An article published on Malawi Voice on February 1, 2020 the contractor pointed out that there is a possibility of finishing the project ahead of the deadline but a visit at the facility to day tells a whole different story.

In January 2022, Ministry of Local Government spokesperson Anjoya Mwanza told Zodiak Online that funds for the market are available and government will follow up with the contractor to resume work.

Initially, the much awaited Mphanje Market construction project was allocated 900 million kwacha.

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