Karonga District Council to relocate rice and groundnut mills in heart of town

* Heaps of rice chaffs and groundnut pods have piled up in Karonga’s central business district

* Town plan shows that where they are operating is not a commercial area, thus to relocate them to a place befitting their business

By Felix Katemula & George Mponda, MANA

To address people’s concerns over environmental and health hazards caused by rice and groundnuts mill shellers which are operating in the heart of Karonga Town, the District Council plans to relocate them to 8kms away from the heart of central business.


The development follows heaps of rice chaffs and groundnut pods which have piled up in Karonga’s central business district (CBD) and the Council says it had previously already engaged the business owners on the issue and were willing to relocate.

In an interview today, June 19, Karonga Council’s acting director of planning & development, Khumbo Mkandawire said their town plan shows that where they are operating is not a commercial area.

“We are to relocate them to a place befitting their business as we strive to keep the town clean and avoid noise and waste pollution in residential areas,” Mkandawire said.

Khumbo Mkandawire

The council is currently sourcing funds for buying land near Nthola-Ilola Greenbelt Initiative Rice Mill which is located about 8kms away from Karonga CBD where they will relocate to.

Chairperson of Karonga Business Association of Rice Mills, Felix Mwakiyanjala blamed the Council for delaying the relocation on several times, a development which he said has also affected their business plans.

“We urged the Council to fulfill the plans this time,” he said. “We totally agree to the relocation exercise and we have shown our commitment by paying development fees. This is a third site we have been told to relocate to.”


Some of the business people who sell rice at the mills’ premises, Virgo Kachere and Salome Msowoya, while agreeing to the relocation, observed that the move will jeopardize their business.

“Our homes are in town close to the rice mills and M-1 Road, making it a convenient rice business place both to us and our customers,” Kachere said. “The relocation will have negative consequences to us and the business because of transport and accommodation costs.”

Kachere and Msowoya then urged the Council to do further consultations on the issue to settle on a win-win situation.

Karonga District is a major rice producer and famous for its highly flavored Kilombero and Faya varieties.

Of late, Karonga Town has been in the news for wrong reasons as just last month, Council chairperson, Misheck Mwaijengo warned farmers to stop drying their rice on the sidewalks of M1 Road to avoid accidents.

It is common practice to be drying the yield on the road and in an interview with MANA, Mwaijengo said although the practice is very common during harvest time, it poses a grave risk to road users since accidents can happen.

“Our colleagues from the department of agriculture should go around with awareness messeges to stop farmers from drying their rice and other products on the road,” Mwaijengo had said.

“We should not wait for an accident to happen before action is taken. The stretch of road from Karonga town to Songwe border is where this practice is very common and some parts of Chilumba as well.

“People need to know that doing this is putting the lives of so many road users in danger,” he said.

In a seperate interview, one of the rice farmers, Rehema Chipeta from Zindi Village in the area of Paramount Chief Kyungu, said lack of space to dry their harvest in their homes is what pushes them to the M1 Road.

She indicated that when it’s harvesting time, the soil around their homes is usually too moist and the only place to dry the rice is on the tarmac.

The same month, it was also observed of the nuisance free roaming of cattle around town streets and following complaints from motorists, cyclists and homeowners, Mwaijengo said the District Council has formulated by-laws to control this malpractice.

The decision came about after the council tried to reason with the cattle owners to desist from this malpractice but, as according to Mwaijengo, it seems the owners don’t — an attitude of showing disrespect to authorities.

Motorists and cyclists have for long complained about the herds of free roaming cattle in Karonga Town and speaking in an interview with MANA, taxi driver, Badwin Mkandawire said the cattle are becoming a traffic hazard in the town.

“They are causing inconveniences as commuters are being forced to wait for the cattle to cross the road,” he said. “The situation is worse especially in the morning and afternoon when these herds are going out to feed or returning to their kraals, if at all they have any, since some cattle owners leave them to roam freely even at night.” Mkandawire said.

Bicycle taxi operator, Keston Msiska said the free roaming livestock is a major concern to them and action needs to be taken before something bad happens: “Accidents have happened before due to cattle wandering the streets in town.

“It is time our Council woke up and realise this is an urban area where cattle are not supposed to be running around like in some bush,” Msiska said.

Thus MANA contacted Council chairperson, Mwaijengo, who added: “It is a very serious problem around town as in some cases residents wake up to find cattle sleeping on their lawns while some even go further to bring their cattle for feeding at the District Commissioner’s office lawn.”

“We formulated by-laws to control this malpractice and proposed that the Council should build a kraal where all cattle found roaming will be captured and kept for their owners to pay a fee of K50,000 per cattle or risk it being confiscated.”

Council chairperson, Mwaijengo

Mwaijengo said they have since sent a draft copy of the by-laws to the Ministry of Local Government, Unity & Culture for review and authorisation and are yet to receive feedback.

Public relations officer for the Ministry of Local Government, Anjoya Mwanza confirmed that all councils, including Karonga, submitted draft by-laws for approval.

“Before the Minister approves, by-laws undergo a review process where the Ministry of Justice goes through them to check if they are reasonable, fair and consistent internally as well as in line with other laws.

“In this regard, all the draft by-laws submitted by the councils are with the Ministry of Justice for the aforementioned purpose,” she said.

She appealed to Chiefs surrounding Karonga town to help the Council make cattle owners aware that it is illegal to be feeding or leaving their livestock to roam freely.—Edited by Maravi Express