Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Kampala Capital City Authority-KCCA enforcement officers have this week intensifed operations to get vendors off the streets.
The enforcement teams are being assisted by a group of youth donning reflector jackets with inscriptions, ‘Smart City’, that have however been accused of brutality by the vendors. The youth support team is guarded by security personnel from the Field Force Units and Police.
The team operates by confiscating merchandise and bundlins it onto their trucks. Wooden boards and stools used by vendors in their trade are broken and loaded on a Fuso truck.
Herman Segawa, a vendor along Namirembe Avenue says since the week began, the law enforcement team has been on the street daily. Those who resist are arrested and taken to City Hall Court.
Segawa however insists that they cannot leave the streets because they have nowhere else to work from. He says that the markets like Usafi and St. Balikuddembe to which KCCA wants them to go to, are full already.
Segawa, a father of six says that he needs his job now more than ever, to enable him take his children to school.
Another vendor, Gerald Mukalazi says that it is on the streets that they work to earn and sustain their families. He says Usafi Market is outside the central business centre and hence attracts few customers.
Mukalazi, who once owned working space in Mukwano Arcade, says he ran bankrupt more than four years ago and was forced to operate from the streets where he doesn’t need to pay rent.
The Deputy Spokesperson of KCCA, Robert Kalumba says that all vendors should go to the markets because it is not sustainable to operate illegally on the streets.
He adds that following the presidential directive, KCCA no longer collects fees from the vendors. Kalumba says there is working space in Usafi that street vendors can occupy.
Kalumba says they shall continue sensitizing the vendors to acquire space in markets and work in a more organized environment.
But Isma Mubiru the Chairman of Fuba Tukole Hawkers and Vendors Association says that KCCA should organize vendors to improve their operations within the city rather than chase them off the streets.
He referred to the Street Vendors and Hawkers Ordinance that they were working with KCCA which has since 2018 not been concluded. The ordinance has provisions like the designation of streets for vending, time for vending, and licensing vendors in different divisions of Kampala among others.
Mubiru says vendors are ready to abide by the ordinance when it comes into force.
Kalumba says, KCCA also plans to roll out Sunday markets in different divisions of Kampala.
The vendors have also raised concern about the brutality of the law enforcement team, pointing fingers at the youth working with the team.
On Tuesday night, there was a fight between the youth and vendors. Mukalazi says that the youth working with KCCA came to confiscate merchandise from vendors who resisted and they responded with force to take the merchandise.
The following day on Wednesday, the youth returned with sticks and stones provoking a fight with vendors again.
The youth have also been accused of assaulting two journalists Brenda Namale from Vision Group and Ponsiano Mukiibi of BBS TV.