By James Ngalande, MANA
Mponela Police in Dowa District have arrested Chipiku Stores Branch Manager at Bowe Trading Centre for allegedly selling subsidised farm inputs under government’s Affordable Inputs Program (AIP) at inflated prices than the recommended ones.
The suspect has been identified as Hanania Kaonga Nkhoma, aged 40 of Msampha Village in Traditional Authority Dzoole in the district.
According to Mponela Police Public Relations Officer, Inspector Kaitano Lubrino, Bowe Chipiku Stores Branch commenced the sale of subsidised farm inputs on Monday, November 2.
However, beneficiaries were surprised to note that the price at which they were buying the inputs were higher than the recommended government prices.
“It is alleged that the beneficiaries were being asked to pay K5,500 for a 50kg bag of fertilizer and K3,000 for 5kg pack of maize seed instead of the recommended K4,494 and K2000 respectively,” he said.
Lubrino further explained that the issue was brought to light when beneficiaries who went to purchase the commodities started protesting after noticing that almost over seven people purchased the commodities at a higher price.
The development prompted the police to come to the scene quickly and arrested the manager where in the process K18,000 was recovered.
The law enforcers have assured Malawians that they are strictly monitoring implementation of the program, saying they have put robust measures to ensure it runs smoothly.
Meanwhile, Malawi Police Service says it is concerned with reports of some unscrupulous traders and suppliers of AIP farm inputs who are selling the inputs at higher prices.
A statement from MPS publicist, Senior Superintendent James Kadadzera says that there have reports in Thyolo, Dowa and Zomba where one 50kg bag of fertilizer was being sold at K5,500minstead of the recommended K4,495 and a pack of maize seed at K3,000 instead of the recommended K2,000.
“So far two suspects have been arrested; one at Mponela in Dowa and the other one at Mayaka in Zomba.
“The Service warns other traders and suppliers with similar intentions that they will be traced, arrested and prosecuted.
“The police also calls upon Malawians to report any trader or supplier hiking the AIP prices to authorities for action. Furthermore, beneficiaries are reminded not to sell their inputs to vendors.
“The service assures Malawians that it’s officers are monitoring the implementation of this program in all areas and that any attempt to jeopardize its smooth progress will be dealt with accordingly.
In a related development, Police in Mponela, Dowa have also arrested six G4S Security Guards aged for allegedly stealing materials worth more than MK32 million from United Purpose (UP), which were meant for constructing boreholes.
According to Lubrino, the six were arrested last weekend after an audit from UP at their Mponela office revealed that materials worth K32,611 550, to be used for drilling boreholes were missing.
Lubrino said the items missing included cement, pump rods, pump heads, handles and pedestals.
“The development was reported to the Police and after investigations, the guards were implicated of having a hand in the intrusion of a warehouse where the materials were being kept.”
The six are Dickson Bright of Changa Village, Alick Walazi of Chimaminga Village, Kennedy Kamwendo of Njoka Village, Gift Dzuwa of Tepeka Village, David Chibwe of Katambo Village, all in Dowa and Vincent Malala of Chikwawe Village in Ntchisi.
They will appear before the court soon to answer the charges of breaking into a building and committing a felony therein which is contrary to Section 311 of the Penal Code.—Additional reporting by Duncan Mlanjira, Maravi Express & Mtalimanja Banda, MANA