By Taddeo Bwambale
KAMPALA - Chaos erupted at Park Yard market on Thursday as the traders disagreed on the composition of a committee to guide reconstruction of their market.
The Government pledged sh1b to Park Yard vendors who lost their merchandise in a fire that gutted their market on December 4. The inferno reduced traders’ property to ashes.
Defense minister Dr. Crispus Kiyonga, at a meeting with the vendors, tasked them to constitute a committee that will work with government on the modalities to access the funds.
At a meeting held on Thursday at Nakivubo Settlement Primary School to elect their representatives, the traders almost engaged in fist fights challenging the process.
The chairperson of the New Park Yard Vendors Association, Hamza Kalema explained that he had directives to get six traders’ representatives from the market.
According to Hamza, three members of his executive would form part of the committee, in addition to three elected by the traders themselves. Another three representatives from Nakivubo Stadium would be part of the committee bringing the number to nine.
But traders opposed the guidelines, calling for election of all their representatives, including those chosen by Hamza.
Following the acrimony that followed, the elections were called off, further delaying efforts to rebuild the market.
Over 30,000 traders at Park Yard, although the Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA) does not recognise it as a market.
Park Yard stretches from Nakivubo Mews and skirts Nakivubo stadium perimeter wall, up to Namirembe Road and to Kafumbe Mukasa Road in Kisenyi.
Vendors at Park Yard deals mainly in second-hand items such as textiles, shoes, bags, electronics, household items and polythene bags.
Recently, the Resident City Commissioner, Mpimbaza Hashaka, said President Yoweri Museveni had directed that the area be properly gazetted as a market.
Mysterious fires have engulfed the market four times in a space of five years, obliterating the traders’ merchandise.
At least 200,000 people visit Park Yard and the adjacent St Balikuddembe market daily. Most of the structures at the market are built of wood and tarpaulin, making them susceptible to fire.
On February 25, 2009, fire gutted the market, destroying merchandise worth millions.
Two years later on July 30, 2011, another fire destroyed the market but the cause has never been established.
In 2011, Government gave the traders sh1b to rebuild the market, although leadership wrangles later emerged and reports of its embezzlement.