By George Bita
In an effort to decongest the streets in Iganga town, municipal council authorities set up Mutukula Market for traders.
Five years later, the new market stalls are still empty and the streets are still dotted with kiosks. Even a sh100m contemporary fish store built by the fisheries ministry has not been used since 2009.
According to Akamu Sizomu, the northern division chairperson, the market has a capacity of 400 traders, but only 18 have rented space.
“The market has ample space with allowance for future expansion. Our plan was to hit two birds with one stone by cleaning up the streets while boosting the local revenue base for the division,” he says.
Sizomu argues that political differences among local leaders are partly to blame for the failure of the project to take off.
“The traders are being given directives from different politicians, who, in the long run, have brought about confusion,” Sizomu says.
Daudi Wanansi, the Iganga district business community chairperson, believes that the vendors should not have been allowed to operate from the streets in the first place.
“Can you imagine these traders were given licences by the council to work by the roadside where they are being forced to leave?” he says.
Benon Iga, the Iganga municipality clerk, insists that for proper urban planning purposes, the vendors should shift to the new market.
“They have been given several notices to shift, but they have defied them. The only remaining option is legal action,” he says. Siraji Katono, the town mayor, says legal action has been taken against the vendors, who must leave the roadside or risk being forced off.
“A court order signed by grade one magistrate Susan Kanyange has been served to the vendors to relocate within two weeks. Once they defy this order, the Police will come in to enforce the directive,” Katono warns.
After the construction of market stalls, authorities in Iganga town hoped that traders would rush to book space. However, five years later, traders have not shown interest in renting the stalls. Instead, they prefer working by the roadside