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Malawi feature

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  • Christine Chumbler
    Feature: Malawi-Development Malawi CAPITAL S New Structures Worry Cobblers, Tailors Africa News Service 07-MAR-99 LILONGWE, Malawi (PANA, 03/07/99) - The
    Message 1 of 3 , Mar 8, 1999
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      Feature: Malawi-Development
      Malawi CAPITAL'S New
      Structures Worry Cobblers,
      Tailors

      Africa News Service
      07-MAR-99

      LILONGWE, Malawi (PANA, 03/07/99) - The Malawi capital of Lilongwe is
      undergoing a revolution in its development plans to meet the needs of a new
      century for this Southern African state.

      Industralists are busy sprucing up the look of the city, built in the 1970s by
      apartheid South Africa, as new structures keep coming up by the day.

      To residents this is all good. But to a small-time cobbler, tailor and watch
      repairer who rents space outside the city's sprawling shop verandahs, the
      development is nothing short of an economic nightmare.

      What these workers have noticed is that the new modern structures coming up in
      place of the old hardly leave enough room for verandahs.

      Says Anusa Twaibu, a tailor outside a shop along the city's main Kamuzu
      Procession Road: "We help those who cannot afford ready-made clothes. But
      with these new structures, we don't see any future for our businesses since they
      do not seem to leave enough verandah to acconmmodate us."

      Jane Mwamadi, another tailor in the city, while concurring with Anusa, says the
      new buildings are not a bad idea. She says they are in fact in keeping with the
      new trend worldwide since buildings with wide verandahs eat up space
      unnecessarily.

      She nonetheless suggests that the Lilongwe City Council should build stalls for
      the small-scale business persons like tailors who hitherto were finding solace on
      the "disappearing" verandahs.

      "We pay reasonable rental on these verandahs so the council should set up little
      stalls for us," she says.

      Watch repairer James Banda concurs with Mwamadi's suggestion. And he has a
      genuine reason for this. A month ago he was forced to vacate his space at a
      shop verandah as the building on whose verandah he was operating from was
      demolished to give room to a spawling new structure.

      Says Banda, a father of three: "Had the council a place somewhere for us, I
      wouldn't have been jobless now."

      Architect Tapiwa Bandawe says modern structures do not leave room for
      verandah since, according to her, land is increasingly becoming a scarce
      commodity by the day the world-over.

      "We can't afford to create any space outside since any centimeter we have for
      buildings is worth millions," she says.

      As this debate is going on, city fathers in Lilongwe do not seem to be aware that
      as their city transforms for the better, some city residents are being deprived of
      their livilihood.

      Says Evance Mwamvani, a senior official at the civic center, the mayor's office:
      "Officially we are not aware of it but if that's the case we should float it at one of
      our meetings to see if the stalls proposal is worth tackling."

      Not that the major business gurus in the city are in a win-win situation as they
      erect these massive verandah-less structures which are dealing a death-blow to
      the small-time cobbler, tailor and watch repairer.

      Ali Mahomedi, who owns a sprawling modern structure with virtually no room
      for a verandah, says the "small verandah guy" is in fact a "blessing in disguise."

      "You know, there is some kind of symbiotic relationship between us and the
      guys on our verandahs," he says.

      He adds: "You know, the tailor, for instance, when his customers come, they
      buy cloth material from me inside here. As the shoe owner waits for his shoe to
      be mended, he drinks Coca Cola or Fanta from inside here."

      That's extra money that did not come by accident. And yet as the new buildings
      continue to come up in Lilongwe, the future for the "small guy outside the
      verandah" continues to get cloudier by the day.

      Christine Chumbler
      Africa Bureau Information Center
      1331 Pennsylvania Ave. Suite 1425
      Washington DC 20004
      (202) 661-5827
      cchumble@...
    • Dummer, John
      That was an interesting bit on the Lilongwe vendors. While working for Lilongwe City Council there was an incident when my colleagues at LCC physically
      Message 2 of 3 , Mar 8, 1999
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        That was an interesting bit on the Lilongwe vendors. While working for
        Lilongwe City Council there was an incident when my colleagues at LCC
        physically removed the vendors and their cardboard kiosks from along the
        M-1. Ended up with a broken wind screen in our tipper, and some very
        unhappy vendors. What is the answer?
      • James Werle
        Johnny, Your alive! You made it out of that Hanoi pit of hell in one piece. I m in seattle now and I hear your down in P-land. We should get together to
        Message 3 of 3 , Mar 8, 1999
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          Johnny, Your alive! You made it out of that Hanoi pit of hell in one
          piece. I'm in seattle now and I hear your down in P-land. We should
          get together to throw back a few greens and browns for old times sake.
          Good Man.

          I am,
          yours sincerely,
          James


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          >From: "Dummer, John" <jdummer@...>
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          >Subject: [ujeni] Re: Malawi feature
          >
          >From: "Dummer, John" <jdummer@...>
          >
          >That was an interesting bit on the Lilongwe vendors. While working for
          >Lilongwe City Council there was an incident when my colleagues at LCC
          >physically removed the vendors and their cardboard kiosks from along
          the
          >M-1. Ended up with a broken wind screen in our tipper, and some very
          >unhappy vendors. What is the answer?
          >
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