Uganda: How New KCCA Law Will Regulate Operations of City Markets

12 February 2019

Kampala — The controversy surrounding management of city markets is likely to be contained if the new law is implemented.

The Kampala Capital City Ordinance, 2018, that was passed last week by the city authority at Kampala Capital City Authority Hall, only awaits the nod of the Attorney General.

It, among others, seeks to provide for a clear and comprehensive licensing for permanent, semi-permanent and temporary markets, overall management and control of all types of markets in the city, and processes through which market leaders in public markets can be elected.

According to Section 7 of the 2010 KCCA Act, the Authority is mandated to, among others, initiate and formulate policy, and enact legislation for the proper management of the city.

While passing this Ordinance last week, Kampala Lord Mayor Erias Lukwago said the purpose of the new law is to resolve the current problem of mismanagement and maladministration of market facilities and infrastructure by private investors and market vendor associations.

"This is a very big achievement because city markets have had wrangles for a very long time. It is a breakthrough we must celebrate and we hope it will clean all the mess in the city markets. Currently, you can't differentiate between a public and a private market in Kampala," he said shortly after passing the Ordinance.

He noted that unlike the Kampala City Council Market Ordinance, 2016 which only allowed establishment of public markets, the new law gives leeway to private investors to establish markets, but under the supervision of KCCA.

The Kampala City Council Ordinance, 2006, was passed during the late John Ssebaana Kizito's time as Kampala mayor. However, it didn't offer much help as most city markets are still marred with controversies.

For instance, although it banned the establishment of private markets, and manipulative middlemen from public markets, nothing much was achieved.

Therefore to restore normalcy, the current leadership sought to tighten the noose on management of all city markets through a new legislation which was unanimously passed by council last week. When implemented, time will only be the neutral arbiter to test its effectiveness.


According to the new law, private investors willing to establish markets in the city will have to pay licences of operations.

Under the new law, the monthly licenses on private markets will be levied according to their grade and number of facilities.

Grade one market will pay a monthly licence of Shs600, 000, second grade Shs500, 000, third grade Shs400, 000, fourth grade Shs300, 000, and fifth grade Shs200, 000.

A license fee shall only be paid to the Authority for the operation of a market

Although the Ordinance doesn't explain the types of grades, Kennedy Okello, the chairperson of the audit standing committee told Daily Monitor that the grades of markets will be set by the directorates of physical planning, and gender and community services after inspection of the facilities before issuance of licenses.

He, further, explained that some of these markets could be permanent, mobile, temporary and seasonal.

Samuel Sserunkuma, KCCA's acting executive director said that the new law will help KCCA monitor operations of markets in the city.

"It's true that city markets both private and public have been facing a lot of challenges. But with this new law in place, all the wrangles will cease. As city administrators, we are committed to having an environment free of chaos and that's why we are happy with this law," he said.

Majority of markets in Kampala were established between the late 1950's and early 1960's.

However, overtime, the capacity of these markets has since been overtaken by the increasing urban population growth and the tremendous increase in the number of market vendors in all city markets.

Wrangles in private markets

Currently, all city markets, whether public or private, are dogged with fights which have stagnated their development. As a result, some vendors, especially the poor, have ended up on streets because of failure to cope with the prevailing conditions in city markets.

Whereas St Balikuddembe (7.7 acres) and Kisekka (3.7acres) Markets were leased to the vendors' associations, there is still disagreements between Nakasero Market Tenants Association and KCCA over the management of the facilities.

Nakasero vendors, sitting on two acres of land, accuse KCCA of interfering with their activities, arguing that the President made a directive that the market should be leased to them.

They have since stopped remitting revenue to KCCA and the matter is pending in court. Mr Kaujju declined to comment on the Nakasero matter, saying that it is in court.

St Balikuddembe, Shauriyako and Nakasero had been contracted to city businessman Hassan Basajjabalaba by Kampala City Council (KCC), the predecessor of KCCA through his trading companies Sheila Investment, Yudaya International and Victoria International Company.

The government later terminated the management contracts with the said companies, leading to Shs160b compensated to Mr Basajjabalaba.

All the three markets have been dogged with wrangles since they reverted to the vendors' control following the presidential directive to revoke Mr Basajjabalaba's contracts.

However, under the new law, investors planning to establish private markets will be required to present an approved architectural plan that has been done in line with the public health (building) rules, a risk assessment in relation to the proposed operation of the market, and payment of prescribed application fee.

Others are; size of the market, its location and frequency with which a market is held, ownership of land where the market is situated, compliance with environmental, public health and physical planning requirements, and accessibility.

According to the new law, save for the already existing markets, no market shall be approved within a radius of half a kilometre (500metres) of an existing market.

While the power to grant a permanent licence will be vested in the authority, the power to grant temporary, seasonal and mobile market licences shall be held by the market administrator and shall be exercised in accordance with the law.

In considering applications for temporary, seasonal and mobile markets, the law states, market administrator shall consider, among others; traffic flow of the area, access of sanitary facilities, defined area of operation, arrangements for garbage disposal, access to persons with disabilities, items to be sold, and views of neighbouring businesses.

However, the market licence shall be revoked if the holder ceases to operate at the premises specified in the market licence.

Public markets

According to the new law, the authority has the primary responsibility for the management and maintenance of permanent public markets in Kampala. But the authority may in some instances delegate the responsibility to a market management committee.

The market management committee shall be responsible for among others; maintaining cleanliness, sanitation and hygiene, ensuring trade order in the market, managing garbage disposal, updating the vendors' register, and ensuring security.

Under the new law, the market administrator shall organise and preside over elections of the management committee and these shall be by secret ballot.

Some of the current public markets under management of KCCA include Usafi, Wandegeya, Nakawa, Bugolobi, Ntinda and Nateete.

However, management of these facilities is marred with controversy, leading to clashes among vendors. They are also overwhelmed by the ever-growing population hence shortage of working spaces.

While KCCA appointed interim leaders in markets such as Usafi and Wandegeya, vendors argue that they ought to democratically elect their own leaders through the ballot to avoid mismanagement of vendors.

"First of all, these leaders serve the interests of KCCA and not those of the vendors and that's why we want to choose the leaders that we want. Poor leadership is the reason as to why there are still wrangles in city markets," said Sowed Lubwama, a fresh foods vendor in Usafi.

However, the Ordinance gives powers to the authority to manage all operations of city public markets.

The roles include general oversight and supervision roles, granting and revoking market licences, verifying and keeping an updated database, meeting utility costs, setting and collecting market dues, desilting drainages, operating public toilets, and health inspection.

A vendor in a permanent public market shall be expected to among others occupy a stall within the market, not to sublet his or her stall, ensure that his or her stall is clean all the time, ensure to settle any payable fees within 15 days of the due date, and to be orderly and not to create chaos in the market.

Expulsion risks

According to the law, a vendor who fails to a bide by the duties as provided for may be expelled from the market on the recommendation of the market management committee, at the discretion of the market administrator, without a refund of any market dues already paid.

Further still, allocation of workspaces to vendors within the public markets shall be done by an allocation committee on a first-come-first serve basis.

However, with the city's growing population, city leaders argue that government must allocate more funds to enable them construct more markets so as to accommodate street vendors.

KCCA has been experiencing budget cuts for the last couple of years hence the plans to build new public markets in the city remains on paper.

For instance, for the year 2019/20, the directorate of gender and community services under which city markets fall, was allocated only Shs7.40b out of the overall KCCA's budget of Shs Shs371.15b.

Although KCCA has previously demanded a bigger budget, government says there are other competing areas. This implies that KCCA's plan to establish more public markets might not be achieved any time soon.

What market leaders say

"As Owino market, we welcome the new law and we are ready to work with KCCA as long as we retain our independence as a private market. We are also ready to pay licence".

Spokesperson Owino market, Wilberforce Mubiru

"While the law is good, I would advise KCCA to avoid interfering with the operations of private markets because for instance, they can't organise elections of our leaders since we have an association of vendors that can do that. What they can do is to just play a supervisory role". Robert Kasoro, chairperson Kisekka market

"I am happy that a new law on city markets has been made. However, the most key issue for me is that the election of market leaders by vendors shouldn't be left on paper".

Ronald Zibu, chairperson Kasubi market

"This law is timely and if well implemented, it could end the wrangles in many city markets. However, my worry is the politics in city markets. For instance, politicians have their own agents in the markets".

Jonathan Gita, chairperson Wandegeya market

Key terms

Market administrator. An authorised officer of the authority or his or her designates.

Market operator. A person, body or organisation to which a market licence is granted by the authority or to whom the duty to run a public market has been assigned authority.

Mobile market. A market that is authorised to operate in a specific area on specific days.

Pitch. A portion of the ground or floor of a market allocated to a vendor for the purpose of displaying goods for sale.

Permanent market. A market with a permanent location and with full-time operations.

Seasonal market. A market that is licensed to do business only in a particular defined season like religious holidays and special events such as 'back to school'.

Shop. A portion of the market erected by or with the approval of the authority for the purpose of being used as a store for goods which are being displayed for sale.

Private market. A market established in the capital city by a person other than by the authority.

Public market. A market established in the capital city either by government or the authority

Temporary market. A market that is permitted to operate while the permanent market is being renovated or redeveloped for a specific period of time.


In 2009, Parliament resolved to secure a loan of $70m from the African Development Bank and the Arab Bank for Economic Development in Africa to finance the markets and Agricultural Trade Improvement project.

This was meant to increase production and marketing of agricultural commodities, enhance incomes of vendors, increasing employment and customer satisfaction.

The six markets are; Wandegeya, Ntinda, Nakulabye, Kasubi, Busega and Kansanga Nabutiti. However, it's only Wandegeya market that has been constructed. Busega market is under construction while the rest are not.

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