Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Fort Portal tourism city council has directed all vendors along River Mpanga to return to the market or risk forceful eviction.
According to the city clerk Innocent Ahimbisibwe, they have noticed that vendors are leaving the market stalls empty and resorting to selling their merchandise from near the river which is leading to heavy pollution and degradation of the major water source in the area.
He also says the city council is trying to develop a green belt along the river as a way of beautifying the tourism city while at the same time protecting the environment.
But the vendors say they will not vacate the area because the lockups and stalls inside the market are costly. Lockups in Mpanga market go for about 150,000 Shillings a month.
Patrick Nyakoojo, one of the vendors also notes that there is no space in the market to accommodate all of them.
Rose Kasemire, also a vendor operating near the river says the city council should add them time so that they find where to go because currently, they are financially constrained to afford new places.
Since the commissioning of Mpanga market in 2013, vendors have been calling on the city authorities to reduce rent saying its too high and unaffordable but their pleas have never been answered. This has also seen parts of the multi-billion shillings facility remain empty with vendors saying they are expensive.
Over the past fifteen years, River Mpanga’s flow and quality has been severely affected by human activity. Encroachment, sand and stone extraction, poor agricultural practices and pollution have taken their toll and reduced its flow. The pollution of the river has also affected the quality of water supplied to Fort Portal residents.
Last year, the King of Tooro Oyo Nyimba Kabamba Iguru Rukidi IV, launched the “Save River Mpanga Now” campaign that is aimed at conserving the water body. The local communities and several Non-Governmental Organizations-NGOs have also joined hands to halt the devastation of the river.