Uganda: Masaka Vendors Protest Over Poor Road

16 October 2019

Police in Masaka District on Monday fired teargas and live bullets to disperse vendors at Masaka Central Market who were demonstrating the poor state of a road adjacent to the facility.

The vendors claim Bwala Hill Road, whose drainage channel was blocked, allows sewage to flow into their stalls thus destroying their merchandise.

"The situation has become unbearable. We have complained to municipal authorities but they have failed to repair and desilt the channel. Whenever it rains, our stalls are flooded," a trader, who preferred anonymity, said.

Ms Elizabeth Nakayiza, the chairperson of the Masaka Central Market Vendors Association, said the clogged water channel had caused huge losses to vendors.

"Our merchandise always get soaked in dirty water whenever it rains. We regret relocating to this place," she said.

Mr Denis Lukanga Majwala, the chairperson of Katwe-Butego Division in Masaka Municipality, said vendors were right to protest.

"Bwala Hill, like other roads in poor state is under Uganda National Roads Authority (Unra), but they have failed to work on it despite numerous reminders. Maybe after this demonstration, they will wake up and fix it," he said.

Mr Henry Komakech, the Unra station manager in Masaka, could not be reached as his known telephone was switched off.

The traders had blocked the road, paralysing traffic for about an hour.

Mr Paul Kangave, the southern region police spokesperson, said police intervened to restore order.

"Since the market is close to Masaka Town, the protestors would easily cause mayhem. We had to swiftly intervene and restore sanity," he said

The vendors, who are operating in makeshift stalls, were relocated to the open space adjacent to Masaka Secondary School two years ago to pave way for construction of a modern market at their original site, which is about 100 metres away.

Once complete, the modern market is expected to accomodate more than 2,000 vendors, which is twice the number of those who were initially operating from the space.

The vendors had initially rejected the open space where they are operating saying it is small and not convenient for a market.

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