28 February 2013

Uganda: Owino Leadership Row Deepens

A section of Owino (St Balikuddembe) market traders have petitioned parliament accusing the leadership of hijacking the market for the enrichment of a few individuals.

A team of 20 vendors belonging to Owino Twegatte Development Association Ltd, presented their petition to the Presidential Affairs Committee calling for urgent intervention.

They complained that whereas the Kampala District Contracts Committee agreed to offer a sub-lease to the vendors on condition that all people operating in the market are members, most of them had been locked out.

Documents presented indicated that several traders formed St. Balikuddembe Market Stalls, Space & Lock-Up Shops Owners Association Ltd (SSLOA) which was in 2008 given the lease by KCCA after securing a loan of sh4b from DFCU.

"We about 50,000 traders in Owino market but majority of us have been excluded from SSLOA yet the President's directive was meant to give the market to all of us not to a few individuals. We request government to takeover the market through KCCA," said Ibrahim Kitaka, the secretary for the group as he was presenting the petition.

They further requested government to help them develop the Owino market as it has done in the case of the Wandegeya market.

The traders also requested parliament to call upon KCCA to urgently organize elections in the market arguing Kayongo has been its leader for more than 16 years.

The traders complained that those who are opposed to leadership of Kayongo are harassed and sometimes their merchandize confiscated.

They also alleged that Kayongo recruited non-Owino members in SSLOA and also involved his youngest daughter as one of the shareholders.

They also want the government to prevail over Kayongo's team to stop him from collecting market monthly dues from them of sh13,000 from each.

"If the money is collected to pay the annual ground rent of sh200m, then each one of us should pay less than 2000. They are just enriching themselves," said Anatooli Nsereko, the group chairman.

Speaking to New Vision, the presidential affairs committee chairperson Colonel Fred Mwesigye (Nyabushozi) said, "From what we have heard, there is evidence that SSLOA leadership has closed out some traders and that it lacks transparency in the management of the market."

He said in their recommendations, they would call for the involvement of all the traders in SSLOA and ensuring that they all participate in elections to elect new leaders.

Mwesigye said they will meet Kayongo and his executive next week as well the minister for economic monitoring Henry Banyenzaki.

Committee member Judith Amoit, (Pallisa), said, "There is every indication that Kayongo's leadership team is acting selfishly. They are closing out some vendors so that they get a bigger share of the dividends."

But Kayongo dismissed the group saying, "They always create something new. They can even create other 50 groups. I am not in charge of the management of the market. We employed professional people who are doing the work."

On the membership, Kayongo said, "Everyone with a stall or lock-up has to contribute sh1m to become a shareholder because we used sh4b to pay the land and we pay annual rent of sh200m. We had to raise the money for all that."

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