By Taddeo Bwambale and Juliet Waiswa
Local government minister, Adolf Mwesige intervened on Wednesday in a row between the Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA) and traders at Wandegeya Market over market rates.
The traders were expected to start moving to the newly-built Market traders on Wednesday but declined to relocate citing ‘unfair’ terms of their tenancy agreement with KCCA.
The agreement grants each of the registered traders a 10 year renewable lease to operate in the market.
According to the monthly rates issued by KCCA, owners of stalls and shops will pay between sh40,000 and sh250,000.
The traders were paying between sh5,000 and sh30,000 monthly to operate in the old market, according to their chairperson, Hajji Mwanje Mutesasira.
The traders were temporarily shifted to pave way for construction of a modern market, replacing a dilapidated market that mainly had makeshift eateries, saloons and shops.
The new market which cost sh22b to build has a banking hall, daycare centre, cold rooms, clinics, parking lots and fire detection systems.
The market is divided into the Northern Wing and Southern Wing and can accommodate at least 1,200 traders.
Relocation to the new facility has drawn protests from the traders, arguing that the charges are too ‘high’ for them.
The traders petitioned KCCA, the local government ministry and other government agencies over the agreement.
During a closed-door meeting convene by the minister to resolve their grievances, he advised KCCA to revise the rates in consultation with the traders.
“These rates are too high. Government’s purpose was to set up a market for the urban poor,” he said during the meeting held at his office on Workers’ House.
“We built the market with the purpose to help the traders and KCCA should as much as possible stick to that purpose,” the minister said.
Present at the meeting was KCCA’s deputy executive director; Judith Tumusiime, Harriet Mudondo (director gender), Charles Ouma (deputy director legal); local government permanent secretary, Eng Patrick Mutabwire, Esau Galukande (deputy director production) and traders led by their chairperson, Mutesasira.
However, KCCA spokesperson, Peter Kaujju told the New Vision that the rates would not be changed since they were developed in consultation with market leaders.
During the meeting with the minister, the traders demanded that they be allowed to use their agreements as security to obtain loans from financial institutions. The agreement bars them from using their facilities as collateral security.
The traders are also demanding unlimited tenure to operate in the market and a right to let out their spaces without notifying KCCA.
Mwesige advised KCCA to respect an earlier agreement between Government and the traders which guarantees their right to operate in the market.
During Wednesday’s meeting, Mwesige proposed that a committee be set up to revise the rates so that they reflect government policy on markets.
“Let KCCA and vendors sit down and revise the rates. We are dealing with poor people. We need to be realistic and ensure that the rates are affordable,” he stated.
He assured the traders that each of the registered traders would be accommodated in the new market.The meeting agreed that the traders will relocate to the newly market on Sunday, pending a review of the rates.