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Wednesday,September 30,2020 07:13 AM

We must not ignore small faults

By Vision Reporter

Added 11th October 2010 03:00 AM

WHENEVER I am in Kampala, I buy my foodstuffs from a roadside market in Kireka just near the railway line. And the reason is not because there is bad traffic jam in the city or that I don’t know my way about town. It is just because in this market, every food item has a price tag.

WHENEVER I am in Kampala, I buy my foodstuffs from a roadside market in Kireka just near the railway line. And the reason is not because there is bad traffic jam in the city or that I don’t know my way about town. It is just because in this market, every food item has a price tag.

By Karooro Okurut

WHENEVER I am in Kampala, I buy my foodstuffs from a roadside market in Kireka just near the railway line. And the reason is not because there is bad traffic jam in the city or that I don’t know my way about town. It is just because in this market, every food item has a price tag.

The moment you arrive at any stall, a quick glance around is sufficient to tell you how much money you will need to spend on each item. A bunch of matooke may go for sh8,000; a tin or irish potatoes for sh6,000 and a heap of tomatoes for sh3,000. Even the live chickens have prices clearly and conspicuously tagged. As a matter of fact this is only one of two places I know in Kampala where you find price tags on food items – the other being some grocery in Ntinda.

By shopping in these places, therefore, I am spared the bargaining and haggling nightmare that is typical of Kampala’s markets. Most traders in Kampala always ask you for double the price or more! A shirt that costs just ah20,000 will have anything from sh50,000 to sh70,000 as the asking price, depending on how the trader assesses you. We are talking about very smart chaps here. As you walk in, they weigh you carefully and make up their minds how much you are worth. How do you walk? A firm determined gait shows purpose and conviction and suggests you probably know your way about town.

A hesitant person, usually one out of his depth, overwhelmed by his surroundings, unsure of his steps and does not know which street he is on can be taken advantage of. What clothes are you wearing? That will tell whether or not you are educated and whether you have money, or you are just window-shopping and dreaming of bliss yet you dwell in misery. What language do you speak? The one who speaks good Luganda is hard to deceive and probably knows the actual price of the commodity. He also probably knows every trick in the book. You want to handle them with care.

Is the customer from Kampala, or outside it? If Kampala, he probably knows the ways of the city, he’ll be hard to handle. Those from outside Kampala are fodder — you can do anything with them. Lastly, if a woman is accompanied by a man, thank God; for no man wants to show his woman that he cannot afford what she is asking for. Name any price and he won’t negotiate it. He wants to impress the lady of his heart. This is kind of reminiscent of Idi Amin’s regime just after throwing out the Asians and taking over their huge businesses. You’d enter and inquire after a particular commodity. Then the attendant would size you up from hair to toe and then sneer that there was no point telling you the price since you wouldn’t afford the item anyway.

Back to today’s Kampala though, only those who know the actual prices or drive a hard bargain ever get a good deal. For the rest, chances are you are being cheated.

Some 48 years after independence it is clear that the country has made tremendous strides in major areas, since 1986 when the entry of the National Resistance Movement (NRM) government ushered in a series of improvements.

The economy is progressing; GDP is on the rise with each year. The national budget is 70 per cent domestically funded. The road sector doing great. Free primary education is on and free secondary education has also begun and is on course. However, a lot more remains to be done to sort out the small social issues that define a people and that shape other areas of society. But this cannot be done by Government; it must be done by the people themselves.

The small faults can also be seen in other areas. For instance when you go to a building where there is a lift. Many of those waiting for it will not wait for those coming out to disembark; they simply barge in. Really!

Same applies to queues; for example at a pharmacy. You are in a queue and patiently waiting, only for somebody to come in and ignore you, walking straight to the counter. The less said about the traffic jams the better.

These may appear small things; but like the Good Book says, it is always the little foxes that spoil the vine.

We are doing very well with the bigger things; let us put our act together in the small ones, for they are the pointer as to whether we are organised and civilised or we still have a long way to go in this direction.













We must not ignore small faults

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