Uganda: Traders Petition Bank Over Reconstruction of Market

13 February 2019

More than 400 traders of Kabale Central Market have resolved to petition African Development Bank (AfDB) to halt the release of Shs23 billion for the reconstruction of the market until the municipal council addresses their concerns.

They want the council to conduct fresh registration of all the traders and vendors, saying some were left out.

The traders also want the council to respect and uphold all the occupational permits issued to the lockup shops owners in the early 1990 because their 49-year leases are still running.

The traders also want the council to disclose and avail the sitting tenants the relocation plan before the reconstruction of the new market begins.

They are demanding to see the designs of the new market, and a 90-day notice so that they can prepare to leave the premises.

Their demands and resolution were made on Monday during the meeting chaired by Mr Simon Mashemererwa, the chairman of Kabale Central Market Traders Association (KCMTA).

Preparations for the reconstruction of the market kicked off in December last year with KCMTA suing Kabale Municipal Council seeking an interim order to halt the registration exercise of vendors and traders claiming that the process was not transparent.

Kabale High Court is yet to give ruling on the matter. Last month the traders wrote to AfDB over the disagreements.

The Prime Minister, Dr Ruhakana Rugunda, last week met representatives of the traders and council at his office in Kampala in an attempt to resolve the impasse in vain.

"I presented a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) but the speaker for Kabale Municipal Council, Mr Deo Byamukama, mayor Byamugisha Sentaro and the town clerk, Mr Joseph Monday, refused to sign it claiming they wanted to consult their council over the matter," Mr Mashemererwa told the meeting on Monday.

"The municipal council authorities also demanded that we must withdraw the letter we issued last month alerting the African Development Bank about our misunderstanding with Kabale Municipal Council over the planned reconstruction of the market; and we also said that we must consult the traders on the matter and it's one of the reasons why we invited you," he added.

The former district council speaker, Rev Jack Katarishangwa and Mr Richard Muhanguzi, the former municipal council speaker, seconded petitioning the bank not to release funds until the misunderstanding has been solved, a suggestion that was unanimously supported.

"Our lawyers should also put a caveat on the land title acquired by Kabale municipal authorities because were not consulted as key stakeholders. We have investments on the same land and our occupational permits have not yet expired," Mr Muhanguzi said.

The vice chairman for KCMTA, Mr Abdu Nsamba, said they were given occupational permits for 49 years in 1992 but he is worried that their ownership rights may be revoked even before the lease expires.

"Please be careful with this new approach because your ownership rights may be lost. It seems that there is a deal to withdraw your rights now that the government wants to construct this market," Mr Nsamba said.

WHAT AUTHORITIES SAY...

Kampala Municipal Council Speaker Byamukama confirmed attending the mediation meeting convened by Dr Rugunda. He added that they refused to sign the presented MoU because its contents were irregular.

"The registration of vendors and traders was completed last month and shall not be repeated just because of the personal interests of few traders and lock up owners. The land title for the Kabale Central Market area was legally obtained and the process of registering vendors and traders was done in line with the guidelines of the donors. Those opposing the development are sabotaging the government programmes," Mr Byamukama said. He added that the procurement process for a contractor is underway and reconstruction will begin soon.

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