A section of traders in Kampala have asked government to fast track elections of market leaders.
This follows the expiry of the term of the interim committee (Progressive Market Vendors Alliance), which was instituted to handle the leadership of the markets for six months since March as government prepared for the election new leaders.
In a meeting in Kampala on Thursday, the traders accused the Minister for Kampala, Ms Minsa Kabanda, of attempting to reinstate the leadership of Uganda Allied Market Union.
Mr Muhammad Ssegwanyi, the public relations officer of the Progressive Market Vendors’ Alliance, said government should allow all those interested in becoming leaders to contest in the elections.
“This matter is before court and the file is at the office of the Director of Public Prosecution, so if someone says she is bringing a certain group to take over the market, I think that is chaos. We, therefore, appeal to government to come up with a streamlined system that will not affect our traders, organise the elections in time and we have a fair and peaceful election,” he said.
Addressing the media in Kampala yesterday, Ms Mayi Nabukenya, the Wandegeya Market chairperson, said she asked Ms Kabanda to intervene in the matter but the minister is yet to respond.
“I wrote to her in August [informing her that] Wandegeya traders were being harassed, arrested, and tortured by the old leadership led by the former chairman but no action has been taken against them,” she said.
The interim committee heads of all city markets including Owino, Nakaseru, Usafi, Bukoto, Wandegeya, Kasubi, Bugolobi, Nakawa market among others requested President Museveni to intervene in the matter.
The traders held placards with different messages stating their dissatisfaction with Minister Kabanda.
However, the old Market leadership under the Uganda Allied Market union through their chairperson, Mr Bismarck Ssempija, accused the Resident City Commissioner for Kampala, Mr Hude Hussein, of siding with the interim leadership to keep them in power.
“We want the Minister for Kampala to exercise her powers and organise an election because some of the traders are not happy with the current leadership,” he said.
Efforts to reach Mr Hussein were futile as he did not answer our repeated phone calls.
In September 2020, President Museveni directed then Minister for Kampala, Ms Betty Amongi, to disband the association of leaders from all government markets in Kampala and pave way for the election of new leaders from among the traders under the supervision of the ministry.
This followed a number of complaints raised by traders which include being charged multiple fees by the leaders.
The traders also said charges for utilities like water bills, electricity, toilet fees, and maintenance were inflated.
Efforts to reach Ms Kabanda were futile as her known contacts were not available by press time.
However, the State Minister for Kampala, Kyofatogabye Kabuye, said: “I think the minister was misunderstood. It seems some people are asking for an election because of the expiry of the interim committee’s term and others are saying no.
The discussion that we had with her (Ms Kabanda) is that both the Ministry of Kampala and KCCA were not ready to conduct an election because of the Covid-19 restrictions.”
He added: “Her suggestion which I believe they [traders] misunderstood is that we should organise people and streamline the leadership until it is safe to conduct an election. She had a suggestion where we get market masters to work with the leaders.”