- Feature: Malawi-Development
Malawi CAPITAL'S New
Structures Worry Cobblers,
Africa News Service
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
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
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.
Africa Bureau Information Center
1331 Pennsylvania Ave. Suite 1425
Washington DC 20004
- 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?
- 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.
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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
>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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