Owino traders foil ‘coup attempt’, ask Museveni to punish plotters

St. Balikuddembe Market chairperson Susan Kushaba speaks to traders who were protesting a planned illegal seizure of power by people believed to be facilitated by Minister Minsa Kabanda (PHOTO /UG Standard)

KAMPALA — Owino traders on Thursday foiled a “coup attempt” by a gang reportedly sent by Kampala Minister Minsa Kabanda to distabilise the market.

“The traders, working with the market leadership thwarted an attempt by them (the gang) to distablise the smooth running of the Owino and we are still prepared to defend it from such intruders,” St. Balikuddembe Market Chairperson, Susan Kushaba told this website.

Ms. Kushaba said some people have always tried to seize power by force in the Market and said that a section of people some not even traders are being facilitated to appear in the media with unfounded allegations and blatant lies against the market leadership with the aim of returning chaos in St. Balikuddembe Market.

“But I can really assure that all the traders you here are unbothered about those dractors and they are very prepared that ever before to defend themselves against the return of terror in this market.

“Let them come, we are prepared to defend ourselves against all groups,” she said.

Ssalongo Siraje Bwanika who is the Vice-Chairperson of the Interim leadership accused allies of the former regime under St. Balikuddembe Market Stalls, Space and Lock-ups Owners Association (SSLOA) Mr Godfrey Kayongo of being behind the ‘coup attempt’.

“What happened is an orchestrated attempt to distablise us by factions inside and outside the market and this is an extension of the attempts by remnants since the fall of the former SSLOA to abort the plans by interim committee to stabilize the market,” Ssalongo Bwanika who narrated the Genesis of events in market said.

The interim committee for example mentioned a one Haruna Zamutuuba and another group known as “historicals including a one Winifred Kabanda and Sulaiman Ssemakula all rammants of SSLOA leaders being behind the malice and trible connotations to devide traders on sectarian grounds including tribe.

A number of traders who spoke to this website dismissed reports that they were being overcharged by caretaker Committe and said they are comfortable.

Random traders from different sections of the market said they were worried over a potential return to old days should Minister Kabanda succeed in her quest to return SSLOA in the Makert.

They asked President Museveni to reign in on Minister Kabanda and her groups—saying “we don’t have time for such now because we have just returned from Covid-19 and we want to work peacefully”.

Speaking on Friday night, President Museveni blasted sectarian promoters and said his government will defeat agitators backwardness philosophy.

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.

Susan Kushaba waves to traders

“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.”

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