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Monday,September 28,2020 15:54 PM

Who burnt Uganda's largest market?

By Vision Reporter

Added 27th February 2009 03:00 AM

THE cause of the inferno that destroyed property and cash worth billions of shillings in the Nakivubo Park Yard market is still shrouded in mystery.

THE cause of the inferno that destroyed property and cash worth billions of shillings in the Nakivubo Park Yard market is still shrouded in mystery.

By Ben Okiror

THE cause of the inferno that destroyed property and cash worth billions of shillings in the Nakivubo Park Yard market is still shrouded in mystery.

The Police have started investigations but this has not stopped some people from pointing accusing fingers at the Allied Bus Owners Company.

Traders suspect the bus company because they are constructing a terminal next to the market, whose access road is through part of the market.

The vendors have been opposing the terminal since the Nakivubo Stadium management leased part of its land to the company. The market itself used to be a parking area for the stadium, before Kampala City Council (KCC) began managing it.

Speaking to the press after inspecting the ruins, Kampala mayor, Nasser Sebaggala also attributed the fire to the wrangles between the traders and the stadium management.
He said: “You are all aware of the wrangles between the traders in this yard and the stadium. This area was supposed to be an access road to the terminal.”

The vendors remit sh14m monthly to KCC in taxes and sh3.3m to the stadium in rent. The Allied Park Yard Joint Venture, a company that holds the tender to collect fees from the market resumed paying the money to the stadium only in December after four years without any payment.

But now under the deal, the bus company was supposed to be paying sh12m per month to the stadium management. However, state minister for sports, Charles Bakkabulindi, halted the project after a public uproar.

Despite denial by the bus owners, led by MP Nathan Byanyima, the vendors claim the fire was started from the bus terminal side of the market.

Godfrey Busuulwa, the vendors’ chairperson, cited a burnt kaveera near a hole which he suspects was used for lighting the fire. But perhaps this is prejudice since the area itself is teeming with buveera, the very reason the fire spread rapidly throughout the make-shift market.

Another MP who owns buses in the Allied Bus Owners Company warned the vendors against taking their frustration to them.
Speaking on condition of anonymity, he said: “How can we do such a thing to our potential customers? We are not fools to provoke the very people who can be our passengers anytime. Let them not bring their frustration to us.”
Since most vendors use borrowed money from microfinance institutions to run their businesses, some people have suggested that one of them could have started the fire in order to avoid paying back the loan.

One manager of a microfinance institution argues that since these vendors know that their loans are insured, they can get away with paying back the loans in case of any calamity. What clients are required to do is to report to the lending institution that their stock was destroyed in the inferno and their names are registered.

Until the investigations are complete, we may never know the real cause of the inferno and the conspiracy theories will continue.

But given the history of Ugandan investigations, it is possible that the truth will never come out. Fresh in our mind is the Budo Junior School fire, which has remained a mystery to date.

Who burnt Uganda's largest market?

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