Kampala. The completion of Busega Market hangs in balance as government has not released money for second phase.
The first phase, which was financed with a Shs20 billion loan from Arab Bank for Economic Development in Africa (BADEA, was completed more than a year ago. The second phase which was to cost Shs25 billion, was to be financed by the government of Uganda.
However, an official from the Project Coordination Unit of Busega Market who preferred anonymity because he is not the official spokesperson of the Ministry of Local Government said the Finance ministry has not yet released funds to complete the market.
“And what you see today is the first phase. The second phase was to be financed by the government of Uganda to a tune of Shs25b. There are still financial constraints, but hopefully, money will be released this financial year,” the official said.
Currently, vendors at Busega roadside market operate in makeshift structures and their merchandise always get soaked in dirty water whenever it rains.
“The construction of the market stalled and our leaders no longer talk about it. The sanitary conditions in the old market are horrible and keep worsening,” said Ms Josephine Nakimboowa, a vendor.
Mr Rogers Sembeera, also vendor at the market, said: “We were so excited when they started constructing the market, but we are not sure when it will be complete. It seems there is something wrong. I cannot be convinced that there is no money for the project, some people say it is laxity or misappropriation of funds.”
Busega is one of the nine markets the Ministry of Local Government earmarked nine years ago for development.
Other markets, some of which have already been completed include Wandegeya, Nyendo Market (Masaka District), Mpanga in Fort Portal, Hoima Central market in Hoima Town, Lira Market, Gulu Central Market and Jinja Central Market, among others.
Rubaga Division mayor Joyce Ssebugwawo said she is suspicious that funds for the market could have been diverted for other programmes.
“We know the money was released to Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA). We don’t know why they are not completing the market,” Ms Ssebugwawo said during an interview yesterday.
When contacted, the KCCA public relations officer, Mr Peter Kaujju, dismissed the allegations and said the contract to establish a modern market at Busega was signed between the construction company and ministry of Local Government.
“Money for the first phase of the project was spent and I am told government is in final stages to release funds for the second phase. That money goes straight to the contractor and not through KCCA,” he said.
Although the structure for Busega Market is not complete, a newspaper advert placed by the Ministry of Local government to commemorate 31 years of the NRM government, named the market among those completed.
The same market was also included in the ministerial statement presented by the then minister of Local Government Adolf Mwesige to Parliament in 2015.
A visit to the site by these reporters on Wednesday revealed that the contractor, Arab Contractors Ltd, left the site with all their equipment.
The construction firm reportedly abandoned the site a year ago since funds to complete the market were not forthcoming.
Local Government Permanent Secretary Ben Kamumanya was not available for comment.