“If the air gateway is opened, by October – November we shall have improved. Tanzania has already opened its gateways, Kenya and Rwanda are soon doing the same. We too should follow suit so that we are not left behind. For starters, we can even trade within the region,” KACITA chairman, Everest kayondo said.
KACITA |BUSINESS | AVIATION
The Kampala City Traders Association (KACITA) Uganda has appealed to the government to fastrack re opening of air transport to allow traders access to international markets.
According to KACITA, re- opening of air travel would allow traders to import and export merchandise and quickly enable their businesses to recover.
"If the air gateway is opened, by October - November we shall have improved. Tanzania has already opened its gateways, Kenya and Rwanda are soon doing the same. We too should follow suit so that we are not left behind. For starters, we can even trade within the region," KACITA chairman, Everest kayondo said.
He was speaking in a webinar discussing the impact of COVID -19 on the retail property sector in Uganda, organised by property managers Knight Frank, recently.
He said once business fully returns to normal, traders won't need concessions anymore, as is the case presently, where they are seeking relief from landlords and banks through government intervention.
In March this year, the traders asked the president to compel landlords and building owners to excuse them from rent during the COVID-19 period, following lockdown of nearly all business activity due to the corona virus outbreak.
Kayondo said by the time of the lockdown, some traders had already placed orders for merchandise, and until air travel is lifted, the goods cannot be imported.
He said: "For now, traders remain patient because they are optimistic that things will get better with time."
According to the Uganda Civil Aviation Authority (UCAA) publicist, Viane Lugya, the authority has put in place various interventions to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 in accordance with guidelines provided by international bodies such as the International Civil Aviation Organisation, Airports Council International and the World Health Organisation.
He said a number of these have been extensively discussed and harmonised with national and regional policies, and shared with key industry stakeholders for input.
"That on-going process is in advanced stages and we are all looking forward to the resumption of passenger flight operations at the right time. The exact date will be communicated by the appropriate authorities," he said.
The retail sector
According to Knight Frank head of retail, Mac Du Tut, retailors will have some breathing space as some landlords have already granted concessional stimulus packages that go about six months, to allow their tenants resume operations.
He said both landlords and tenants have been adversely affected by the global pandemic, seeing that they are unable to meet immediate obligations accruing from banks and other creditors.
He said the sector has also been affected by adjustments in the normal working time, from the initial 8am-5pm, to now 9am-4pm due to the lock down measures in place.
"Due of all of these factors, both landlords and tenants have to do a lot of careful planning, having realised that they are equally affected and have to work within the limits to maximise the time available to serve the customers," he said.
Eye Care center proprietor, Jamil Alibhai said it has not been easy to make ends meet during the current times, due to reduced working time, incomes and increased expenses.
However, Stanlib portfolio and business manager for the rest of Africa, Nozipho Makhoba cast hope on recovery of the economy saying investment in Uganda remains optimistic despite current turbulence in the world.
She said all that investors will be looking for, post COVID-19, is a market that offers diversification and sustainable returns on their investments.
"Investors will also be looking for a market with convenience in doing business, sustainability of their investments in the market, and whether the available investment options fall within their risk appetite," she said.
According to the Woolworths Real estate manager, Brett Exner, investors will also be looking at the safety of the country from a social economic perspective the taxation regime and repatriation of their profits to their home country.
"A look at the real estate viability and whether there's space for investment in Uganda seems promising and we look at opening more stalls when the economy fully opens," he said.