By CHUSA SICHONE and STEVEN ZANDE –
A DECISION by the Lusaka City Council (LCC) to demolish several makeshift stalls at the Luburma market in Kamwala on Saturday was met with anger by the affected traders, four of whom were arrested for riotous behaviour.
The traders set alight tyres and other objects as they tried to fend off the demolition team before police reinforcements, among them the city’s dreaded Anti-Robbery Squad, arrived to quell the disturbance.
The traders accused an unnamed Chinese national who is believed to have bought the land of instigating the demolition of their stalls.
While police continued patrolling the area, the irate traders could only watch helplessly as their stalls were uprooted and broken up.
LCC acting public relations manager George Sichimba said in an interview that 11 illegal structures were demolished, but could not give further details, referring all queries to Lusaka deputy Mayor Chilando Chitangala.
Lusaka Police Commissioner Nelson Phiri in an interview confirmed the arrest of the four people.
“We made four arrests and they will be charged with conduct likely to cause a breach of the peace,” Mr Phiri said.
Lusaka Province Bowman Lusambo, who visited the scene later in the day, accompanied by Ms Chitangala and some councilors, said he wanted to sit down with a Chinese believed to have bought the market area.
Mr Lusambo said he was hopeful that a solution would be found once he engaged the Chinese national, who the traders were complaining about.
He also appealed to the traders to engage in dialogue to air their grievances rather than taking to the streets.
“I want to find a solution to their problems and also I engaged my fellow youths that we should not resort to riots and burning of tires. When there is a problem, my office is open. Dialogue is the best way to sort out such problems,” Mr Lusambo said.
Some of the affected traders, Richard Kangwa, Lovemore Lupenga and Shaka Chisanga, complained that the council did not forewarn them, on the operation to give them a chance to remove their merchandise from the shops.
They also wondered why the council demolished their stalls when it had issued them with trading licences.
They accused the local authority of conniving with the Chinese national to demolish their stalls so that he could build his own shop and rent it out.