JJEMBA Edward, 53, a mechanic and businessman, has worked at Kisekka Market for the last twenty years. He wakes up at 5.00am everyday and arrives at work, at around 7.30 am.
This has been his habit for the last two decades, until the fateful day on Monday when he found his work place and all his business, worth sh4m destroyed by fire. For all these years, he has been dealing in car spare parts at his stall number U033.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“For the 20 years I have been here, I have constructed a permanent house in Kyengera and paid school fees for my six children now in secondary schools.Ã¢â‚¬Â
On Tuesday, a friend informed him on phone that his stall was on fire, but he thought it was a joke.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“I could not believe when I found the whole market on fire and I had lost everything. I donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t know what caused the fire.Ã¢â‚¬Â
This market is JjembaÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s main source of income and without it, life is meaningless.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“It took me many years to invest in the business, but now all is destroyed.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Jjemba was born in 1957 in Masaka and in 1974, he came to Kampala and began practicing mechanics at Cooper Motors in Nakivubo.
In the late 1980s, after raising some money, he shifted to the site currently occupied by the New Kampala Taxi Park. There, he established a small shop dealing in car spare parts. He stayed there until the early 1990s when Kampala City Council evicted them and gave the traders alternative land, where the present-day Kisekka Market was constructed.
At that time, the place was bushy and swampy. Ã¢â‚¬Å“We were over a thousand traders. We began clearing bushes to establish our stalls. We used papyrus reeds and wood, but again KCC ordered us to build permanent structures that fit in a growing city.Ã¢â‚¬Â
The traders raised money and by 1997, they had finished constructing stalls and buildings. In recent years, they have been mobilising to contribute sh1m each, to replace the stalls with a modern shopping centre. But all that plan has been dented by the fire.
Like Jjemba, a total of 450 traders lost all their merchandise. The chairman of Kisekka Market block U and W that got burnt, Geoffrey Kayita, estimates the lost goods at sh2.9b. His own merchandise was worth sh5m, he says.
Vendor for 16 years narrates his ordeal