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Namugongo ready for business

By Vision Reporter

Added 18th November 2015 05:23 PM

As the date for the Pope’s visit draws closer, businesses around Namugongo are trying to be in pole position to reap from the crowds that will come to see the Pontiff. David Mugabe explores their chances and level of preparation.

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The lorry stage will be transformed into stalls for food and drinks next week. Photo by Godiver Asege

As the date for the Pope’s visit draws closer, businesses around Namugongo are trying to be in pole position to reap from the crowds that will come to see the Pontiff. David Mugabe explores their chances and level of preparation.

As the date for the Pope’s visit draws closer, businesses around Namugongo are trying to be in pole position to reap from the crowds that will come to see the Pontiff. David Mugabe explores their chances and level of preparation.

The repairs on the road from Kireka in Wakiso district to Namugongo Martyrs Shrine have been going on since March.

And it is along this narrow tarmac stretch with lock-up shops spread on either side that small businesses will either make a kill or miss out.

A mini survey shows that people have different levels of expectations and a general lack of information on whether a business bonanza awaits them as the pope’s visit unfolds.

Choice of business, proximity to the martyrs shrine, offi cial protocol on the day and one’s creativity will be major determinants on how locals cash in on the pope’s visit at the month.

The annual June 3 Martyrs Day celebrations have given some indications that specifi c businesses are already making money, others will miss out on increased sales, while others will make bumper sales on the actual dates.

For now, businesses from just after Shell Kireka have all been affected by the repairs.

Local business

Maureen Birungi from Timo’s Restaurant, about 700 metres after Shell, is concerned about the delay in works that she says has affected her food business.

“People around Kyaliwajjala and Namugongo will benefit more. Pilgrims just walk on and pass us to those areas,” noted Birungi.

On whether she could carry some food items to sell around the shrine, Birungi says ferrying food is expensive. It means hiring people and the venue.

“I hope when the road is complete and has more parking, we will get more customers,” noted Birungi.

At JJK Supermarket, about 150 metres from the shrine, the proprietors are disappointed because the road works have meant closing part of their entrance. The resulting silt deposits have also caused flooding. Aidah Kamugisha, the manager at the supermarket says on October 8, there was heavy rain and the contractors put signages on their entrance.

When their customers saw this, they just moved on.

“When will it be complete?

They don’t listen! The other day we spent two days without working! They should put channels to avoid flooding so that our customers can park their vehicles,” Kamugisha said.

Citing the example of June 3, 2015, Kamugisha narrates how the road was divided into two and the side leading to the shrine from Kireka was

VIP which meant the potential customers who consist of the local people could not cross the other side to buy things from shops on the left.

“We lost out! This road was only for VIP, and you know the President and other VIPs don’t come here to buy things. All of us on this side just looked on,” Kamugisha said.

Kamugisha has asked Kiira town council and State Protocol to look into the matter if the Pope’s visit is to translate into real business for those around the shrine.

Hardware World, one of the biggest dealers in hardware has, however, seen increased sales.

“We are selling over 100 bags of cement daily to the road constructors,” noted Sharon Kawuda, a sales executive at the stores.

Opposite the Comboni Missionaries Retreat House that forms part of the Catholic shrine, new kiosks are being set up although the mini market and food stalls have no face lift yet.

The food sellers are, however, currently benefi tting from the sales because of the on-going road works.

One man’s meat While it may be meat for some people, it is poison for others.

For instance, business gets bad for hire trucks and lorries who have to relocate or miss out business for at least two days.

However, they have a way of benefi tting. David Ssegawa, the chairman of Namugongo Lorry park stage, says when they remove their lorries from their stage, people who flock to Namugongo to sell stuff hire their stage.

Then stalls are quickly erected on the empty space to serve as depots for Coca-Cola, chapati, rolex (omelette rolled in chapati) and other consumables.

“We portion spaces here and people set up businesses.

This is going to be the same when the Pope comes,” noted Ssegawa.

Some people are scared. Adam Amooti, who runs a hardware, says they are being told that the road reserve on which many people have erected structures will be demolished shortly.

Yet these structures existed long before the road was handed over to the central government.

Amooti is jittery about the blanket praise given to Kamapla Capital City Authority and Uganda National Roads Authority yet they clamp on the common man. He says the visit of the Pope will benefit only those dealing in consumables.

Kiira town council has rejected the selling of fresh fruits such as mangoes for fear that diseases could break out.

Namugongo ready for business

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