By Aida Anyango, Cecilia Okoth & Andrew Ssenyonga
Police on Monday calmed down angry city traders who were threatening to cause mayhem over a 50 percent increase in rent raised by Tom Kitandwe, their landlord.
The traders said Kitandwe, the owner of Gazaland, Grand Corner and Galiraaya shopping malls where the scuffle took place, had intentions of increasing rent by 50 percent, a move the traders said was not officially communicated to them.
Traders operating at Gazaland, Gaggawala and Grand Corner House closed their shops in protest of 50% increment in rental fees.
“For the past four years, we have had issues we have always wanted to address to the owner of the buildings in vain. People are afraid of airing out their concerns yet they are being mistreated with rent increment every three months,” Israel Semakula the chairman of the traders said.
Semakula, a trader who owns a shop at the building said much as he pays his rent of sh3m in advance, he is harassed to pay the extra sh50, 000 required before he is allowed to operate in his shop.
Most of the traders also complained about the filth in the malls and that the toilets they also pay for outside the rent are in very sorry states. Gazaland, Grand Corner house and Garilaaya buildings are found down town next to the old taxi park in Kampala.
Business at the malls came to a standstill as traders protested against rent increment
“This building has the filthiest toilets around. It has no water yet we pay for all these facilities. Where does the money go?” Moses Seruyange a business man said.
Madinah Namukasa, a hair dresser at Galiraaya building said they are too parked seeing as the aisles are also used as shops.
“We requested for our electricity meters but for years the land lord has failed to avail us with one. Every month we only see inflated bills ordering us to clear them. Fred Mukiibi also a business man said
Henry Kintu, the Divisional Police Commander (DPC) Central Police Station (CPS) Kampala urged the traders to remain calm and not to cause any chaos.
Kintu said he had spoken to Kitandwe on phone who said he was out of town but promised to come and talk to the traders when he gets back.
The traders however maintained their stand of closing their shops until their issues were looked into.
But by press time, police had taken over the buildings because some of the traders were threatening to beat those who opened their shops.