By Paul Kiwuuwa and Halima Shaban
VENDORS of St. Balikuddembe (Owino) Market yesterday staged a sit-down strike to protest against an increase in market rates by Kampala City Council (KCC).
The vendors neither displayed their goods in the stalls nor opened the lock-up shops. Only perishable goods were on sale.
Trucks loaded with foodstuffs and grains remained untouched, causing long queues with bored , sleeping drivers.
KCC increased daily rates from sh500 to sh700 for vendors who display their goods on the ground. Rates for lock-ups increased from sh10,000 to sh15,000 per month and for stalls it was sh10,500 from sh9,000.
Those who sell vegetables and fruit around the main entrance are now required to pay sh500, up from sh400.
They gathered at the market police post demanding that the Resident District Commissioner, Stanley Kinyata and mayor Sebaana Kizito intervene.
â€œWe are going to the RDCâ€™s office. He can help up solve this problem,â€ said Wilberforce Mubiru, the vendorsâ€™ publicity secretary.
Kampala extra police commander Benson Oyo Nyeko said, â€œWe are aware of the strike but since it is peaceful we shall not intervene.â€
But Herbert Bashaasha, the general manager of Victoria International Trading Company, which collects the dues on behalf of KCC, said the rates applied to all markets in the city.
â€œThese rates are uniform and they apply to all the markets in KCC such as Kalerwe, Nakasero, Nakawa and Bugolobi,â€ he said.
Town clerk James Sseggane said the rates were fair, adding, â€œWe are charging less in comparison with Buganda Kingdom markets such as Kibuye and Mengo. The vendors should be realistic if they want KCC to improve the markets.â€ He said some elements were trying to bring politics into the marketâ€™s administration.