WHO OWNS STALLS & LOCK-UPS IN THE NEW MBARARA CENTRAL MARKET? Commercial officers interdicted 

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A section inside the newly constructed market,on the ground floor.
A section inside the newly constructed market,on the ground floor.

“How will I put my basin of tomatoes on these stalls?” – concerned female vendor.

All is not well in the newly constructed Mbarara Central Market as authorities continue to investigate the reported irregularities including concerns from vendors that some “big people” own many stalls & lock-ups in the market, and old vendors want this resolved.

Mbarara central market is the smallest yet with the highest number of vendors,of the 11 new markets constructed across Uganda-under MATIP.
Mbarara central market is the smallest yet with the highest number of vendors,of the 11 new markets constructed across Uganda-under MATIP.

Local Government Minister Raphael Magyezi, on Friday 8th March 2022 ordered the City Town Clerk to immediately take action and interdict the City Principal Commercial Officer Mr. James Agaba and his assistant Mutahi Donati accused of allegedly soliciting money from the vendors,working with 2 people who were also arrested by Mbarara police.

This follows public outcry where about 64 people from Mbarara called the Minister (on phone) reporting that Agaba, Mutahi and other city staff through some vendors & business people, were soliciting money from the vendors to give them stalls & lock-ups in the new central market.

The accused haven’t responded to these allegations, but vendors allege that some stalls in the market are being “individually” rented out yet the market is a government property with authorities about to set the final rent fee to be paid by vendors.

While commissioning the market on March 19,2022, Minister Magyezi confirmed that vendors will operate for two months without paying rent to Mbarara City Council, and start paying when they settle after the two months.

Contrary to the above, it has been established that the office of commercial officer had recently started charging ugx200,000 from each vendor meant for rent, prompting the Minister to swing into action ordering the city town clerk to interdict the accused, starting Monday 11th March 2022 until investigations are complete.

However, mayor Robert Kakyebezi has on several occasions refuted reports that most traders operating from independence park won’t get space in the newly constructed central market.

Meanwhile, Minister Magyezi has halted the shifting exercise initially set to commence on 11th April 2022 over increasing bribery concerns & other irregularities, until further notice.

Different traders & stakeholders are excited that this will boost people’s income, if the “mess” is resolved.

At independence park, where vendors have been operating from, since July 2017.
At independence park, where vendors have been operating from, since July 2017.

City Council Speaker, Mr. Bony Tashobya Karutsya says Mbarara central market was constructed for socio-economic transformation, so no one will bring rich people and neglect the “poor” and authorities have already decided that those at independence park be prioritized while allocating stalls in the new market.

Out of 700 vendors operating from independence park, about 500 are already on the lists of vendors to enter the new market.

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW.

In July 2017, Mbarara authorities moved 700 traders to independence park to pave the way for construction of a new market that commenced in February 2018. It was initially set to be completed in October 2020, but Roko Construction Company failed to meet several deadlines due to challenges including late release of resources like money. It was officially handed over on March 14,2022.

During construction (photo taken in 2019).
During construction (photo taken in 2019).

Constructed under The Markets and Agricultural Trade Improvement Project (MATIP) supported by African Development Bank, costing ugx21,111,929,638 with a capacity to accommodate 1,522 traders.

Commissioned on March 19,2022, it’s the smallest market compared to other 11 markets under MATIP yet with highest number of vendors. It’s surrounded by private owners.

The market isn’t free; authorities are jointly working with leadership of vendors to agree on a certain fee to be paid by vendors.

Local Government Minister Magyezi promised that traders will freely operate for 2 months and later start paying Mbarara City Council.

The process to shift them back (initially expected to commence on 11th April 2022) is still being hindered by valid concerns raised by vendors that prompted the ongoing investigations by different authorities.

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