KAMPALA — Traders in St. Balikuddembe also known as Owino Market have hit a Kampala Minister, Minsa Kabanda—accusing her a plot to micromanage the market and lack of knowledge about its developments
Speaking to this website on Wednesday, traders argued that the issue of hijacking markets has gone on for too long—noting Minister Kabanda is being misled by powerful individuals who are planning to seize power and return terror in the market.
Traders who have been in the market for years have dismissed Minister Kabanda’s assertion on holding elections without studying the environment and new developments in St. Balikuddembe.
A one Ssalongo Ssonko who has worked in Owino since former President Idi Amin suspended Indians from Uganda said he had never seen the kind relief and peace that traders are enjoying since the interim leadership was instituted.
Mr. Ssonko accuses Minister Kabanda of trying to return terror while working with individuals that President had already flashed out of the market.
“I have been here since [former President Idi] Amin suspended Indians, but I had never tasted the relief and seeing traders free as they are today,” he said in an interview at his stall.
“Those grops she’s returning have terrorised for over 35 years and it is unacceptable that’s she’s working with them. Maybe, she’s clueless about what she is doing,” Mr. Ssonko added.
Another trader Haddijja Nagujja said: “One thing I know for sure, is that we are comfortable with the interim committee. Traders are happy for once again after a very long time. You and ask them in all zones”.
Nagujja, however, said that traders in St. Balikuddembe aren’t against elections but it must conducted within the law but not hijacking leadership because they’re connected.
“All we don’t want is the return of the past,” she said, adding that “we want an election that will be free and fair [and] traders must be registered in every zone before speaking of elections”.
Mr. Nasibu Muddu Awulira a trader who has worked in St. Balikuddembe since 1996 described the Minister’s order to conduct elections in two weeks as unfortunate.
He said the president was very clear on the issue of interim leadership in the markets.
“He wrote to KCCA and other concerned authorities about wrangles in these markets. People have terrorized us, confiscating our goods, and all sorts of things for the past 30 years. We have tasted peace and we can’t allow terror to return here. Let the minister leave KCCA to do its job.”
Ssalongo Bwanika Siraje who is the Vice-Chairperson of the Interim leadership dismissed claims that the interim committe had allowed pork joins in the market as unfounded.
“I’m the deputy on this leadership. I’m a moslem and there’s no way we can allow people joints to be in here,” he said, urging public to treat the talk as malicious propaganda enemies.
“It’s unfortunate that they’re using malice to gain ground. Let them campaign genuinely if traders can allow them away,” he added.
St. Balikuddembe facility which covers about 8.5 acres of land was constructed in 1971 at Nakivubo.
Initially, Owino market was managed by the Kampala City Council (KCC), the KCCA predecessor, until May 31, 1995, when vendors took over the management.
On October 31, 2002, KCC dissolved the vendors’ leadership and handed over the market to city businessman Hassan Basajjabalaba under his Victoria International Company which managed the market from November 2002 to 2006.
On January 19, 2009, President Museveni ordered that the land on which the market sits be leased to the vendors. The Attorney General was asked to ensure that all vendors form a legal association.
Some vendors formed St. Balikuddembe Market Stalls, Space and Lock-ups Owners Association (SSLOA) and obtained a lease offer on February 3, 2010 from KCC at a premium of UGX. 4b and ground rent at UGX. 200m.
However following continuous wrangles among rival groups in the facility, Cabinet last year resolved that government takes over Owino and other markets which had been leased out to the traders associations to eliminate all manipulative leaders.
Last year the SSLOA leadership was asked to step down to pave way for the implementation of the Cabinet directive as KCCA embarked on the takeover exercise.
Some traders who were opposed to SSLOA’s leadership elected Ms Susan Kushaba as their interim chairperson while the latter chose to go to court to block the takeover.
Ms. Kushaba told this website that SSLOA was collecting revenue from the facility without accountability.
“We have been demanding accountability from SSLOA ever since they took over leadership but they never presented any. We believe that when these markets are managed by government there will be sanity,” she said.
Kushaba says she has done more for St. Balukuddembe traders in her four months in leadership than what Kayongo of SSLOA did for the market in the 35 years he spent in leadership.
Kushaba also aimed a dig major dig at the minister and insisted the Kampala Minister needed to be reoriented by the President about her work.
“You’re a minister but you want to to be in all chairs. It seems the President doesn’t orient them abou their work,” she said. “Let them live KCCA to do its job.”
Instead of empowering the traders currently battered by the Covid-19 pandemic, Kushaba says both the Minister and RCC are inciting violence in the market, “moreover using tribal undertones”.
Kushaba said it’s absurd that the Minister was trying to fight her battles using tribal undertones.
President Museveni has previously warned that perpetrators of tribalism will be worked upon.