Kampala. Tension has gripped hundreds of Kasubi and Kalerwe market vendors ahead of a planned road construction work due to commence soon.
Both city suburb markets are occupied by several vendors selling mostly fresh foodstuffs, including fruits and vegetables.
But with the planned roadwork, the survival of the vendors now hangs in balance since they entirely depended on soon-to-be demolished markets for their livelihoods.
Close to three decades, the Kasubi Market vendors have operated from a road reserve and their efforts to get a permanent working space has since hit a snag with a pledge by the government to avail them an alternative market space not being fulfilled.
Already, Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA) plans to construct the Bakuli-Kasubi road under the Kampala Institutional and Infrastructural Development Project with funding from the World Bank.
The Kasubi Market chairperson, Mr Ronald Zibu told Daily Monitor that many of the vendors are likely to lose their merchandise because of the pending eviction, adding that KCCA has so far not provided any alternative working space.
“This market has more than 2,000 vendors, who have been operating here for close to 30 years. Government promised to construct for us a market in vain and we are now worried because the market is one of the affected properties,” Mr Zibu said. He said although some people had offered land where they could relocate the market, KCCA hasn’t secured money to buy the land.
Vendors write to KCCA
On November 15, 2016, the Kasubi vendors wrote to KCCA executive director Jennifer Musisi, Kampala Lord Mayor Erias Lukwago and Rubaga Division Mayor Joyce Ssebugwawo, informing them that they had secured land at Kasubi zone, measuring approximately two acres on Hoima Road.
“…the said land is free from any encumbrances or claims from any third party, highly visible with four major feeder roads connecting to Hoima Road, electricity and water supply plus a pit-latrine,” the letter read in part.
But Mr Peter Kaujju, the KCCA spokesperson, told Daily Monitor that although they are committed to buying land to construct both the Kasubi and Kalerwe markets, the authority has no money for now.
Mr Kaujju was non committal on when they are likely to secure the funds to embark on the two mega projects.
According to the 2017/18 budget allocations, KCCA’s budget was slashed by Shs200b from the anticipated Shs600b, leaving only Shs400b.
There’s nothing in the budget allocated to Kasubi and Kalerwe markets.
Some of the vendors in Kasubi who spoke to Daily Monitor argued that KCCA should halt the road construction work until there is an alternative place to relocate the vendors.
“Government should be considerate to our plight because this is the only source of income to educate our children,” Ms Sabrina Namwanje, one of the vendors, said.
Mr Moses Kasibante, the Rubaga North MP, advised that since both the market and the road are important projects, the government should ensure that none of them is affected.
Last year, controversy ensued as the Kasubi vendors were pitted against each other over a plan to demolish Kasubi Family Primary School.
Whereas some wanted it demolished to pave way for their relocation, others protested the move, arguing that it’s the only school in the area to accommodate their children.
The Buganda Land Board and KCCA later intervened and ordered the vendors off the school land.
Meanwhile, in Kalerwe, the vendors are also worried that Ms Debora Namutebi, the owner of the land on which St Kizito Market sits on the Kalerwe-Gayaza road, could evict them any time when she starts redeveloping the land.
The Uganda National Roads Authority is also planning to expand the Northern Bypass and some of the vendors at the Kalerwe Market will be affected.
Last year, Ms Beti Kamya, the Kampala minister, asked for Shs300m to fund a commission of inquiry into city markets to ascertain the problems faced by vendors. But she later halted the plan as government failed foot the bill.
But following a public outcry on lack of market space for the vendors, President Museveni banned all private investors from contracting city markets.
Although the President extended an olive branch to the vendors by having city markets leased to them, he didn’t issue any guidelines on how it could be done.
But complaints abound even within the markets owned by KCCA regarding mismanagement, revenue collection and general welfare, among other issues.
Loan. In 2009, Parliament resolved to secure a loan totaling to $70m (more than Shs250b) from the African Development Bank and the Arab Bank for Economic Development in Africa to finance the Markets and Agricultural Trade Improvement project.
The markets. The six markets include Wandegeya, Ntinda, Nakulabye, Kasubi, Busega and Kansaga Nabutiti. But it’s only Wandegeya market that has been constructed, while Busega market is under construction with the rest untouched.
Aim. These markets would help to reduce the protracted battles between vendors and private investors, who set up markets to maximize profits.
Above all, the initiative was also meant to increase production and marketing of agricultural commodities, enhance incomes of vendors, increase employment and customer satisfaction.