MPs warn government against toying with the idea of terminating a sub-lease issued to a private contractor to run the market.
By Moses Walubiri & Joyce Namutebi
KAMPALA - Legislators this week cautioned government against toying with the idea of terminating a sub-lease issued to a private contractor to run St. Balikuddembe market (formerly, Owino) to avoid paying colossal compensations arising out of a breach of contract.
Citing the example of the over sh140b compensation to businessman Hassan Basajabalaba government lost after canceling his leases for running a string of city markets, MPs instead recommended streamlining of St. Balikuddembe operations through registering all genuine vendors.
The MPs were debating a sub-committee report on the harmonization of the recommendations that had been proffered by the committee on Presidential Affairs after handling a petition by a group of traders on the mismanagement of St. Balikuddembe.
In the petition, the traders accused operatives of the private sub-contractor – St Balikuddembe Market Stalls, Space and Lock Up Shops Owners Association Ltd (SSLOA) - of brutalizing them and excluding them from being key stakeholders in running the market.
Other recommendations in the report include registration and verification of genuine market vendors and an order for SSLAO to open up and admit into its membership all St. Balikuddembe market vendors.
Kampala woman MP Nabilah Nagayi had penned a minority report in which she called for the dissolution of SSLAO and also have its lease cancelled.
However, Deputy Speaker Jacob Oulanyah said that only courts of law can dissolve a fully registered company and cancel a lease like the one that Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA) issued SSLAO.
With the exception of Nantume Egunyu (Buvuma) majority legislators were averse to the idea of cancelling the lease citing financial implication of such a move.
“The poor vulnerable people we are seeking to protect in these markets will lose their tax money in colossal compensations if SSLAO lease is cancelled,” Alex Ruhunda said.
The report notes that the SSLAO’s exclusive possession of St. Balikuddembe market at the expense of some genuine vendors breaches terms of its lease agreement with KCCA.
Apparently, there is lack of accurate statistics on the actual membership of the genuine vendors with SSLAO putting the figure at 8870 against over 90,000 according to the report of the Presidential Affairs committee.
Last week Reagan Okumu read names of privileged people to the house who have stalls in the market and these include Nkaja Kayongo who is a presidential advisor on markets, the minister for works Abraham Byandala, the information and national guidance minister Rose Namayanja, UPDF political commissar Colonel Felix Kulaigye, Captain Juma Seiko and another presidential advisor known as Winnie Twine.
The government policy on markets is aimed at allowing vendors to run affairs of their own markets in order to create an economically empowered urban populace.
MPs oppose ‘Owino’ market lease cancellation