Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Polling agents and market leadership of Bugolobi market came close to exchanging blows due to the continued closure of businesses located next to Jambula A-M polling station.
The disagreement arose after market leadership asked the polling agents to reduce on the demarcations of the polling area which extended to the verandas of shops so that the owners of businesses could open and work. The polling officials however rejected the request, sparking off a heated verbal war with members of the market leadership.
According to market leadership, businesses located next to the polling station have been suffering since the election process begun. The shopping area located in front of the parking lot next to the road has a total of 902 registered voters.
The market leadership’s request however landed on the deaf ears of polling officials who insisted the shops remain closed. One of the polling assistants identified Agaba told the traders to wait until tomorrow.
“This process only takes place for three days in a space of five years, during the lockdown they were closed for longer than three days, so let them wait,” he said.
Angered by Agaba’s response, Miiro grabbed his shirt. Polling agents and other polling assistants quickly intervened and forcefully separated the two belligerents.
Miiro told URN that the closure of the shops is affecting business. He says the affected people are not compensated in anyway yet they have to pay rent at the end of each month.
Persis Kunihira of Omega Dru cleaners and laundry, one of the affected business said they were told to come and work today but their shops are closed.
“Last time we were told that this time round we could open and work but it seems the EC people have changed their minds. Our shops are closed for the third time in a month. We are losing money but we have no option,” she said.
Marvin Kasaijja, the presiding officer at the polling station told URN that they had settled the disagreement.
According to Kasaijja, both parties had agreed that shops located at the peripheries of the polling station could open. Those in the middle have remained closed.
However, once the shops were opened, vendors who have shops on the first floor of the building could be seen standing at the railing observing the voting process. Some had am almost perfect bird’s eye view of the basin in which voters tock their choice.
Kasaijja deployed police officers to chase them away.
” Those are some of the reasons why we didn’t want to open some shops. People can become unruly. We have put a guard there to guarantee that the integrity of the secret ballot is maintained,” he said.