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Mbale central market chokes on unpaid utility bills

Mbale central market. File Photo

Mbale, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Mbale central market vendors are choking on unpaid electricity and water bills.

The water and electricity in the market has been on and off forcing vendors to vacate the market as early as 5:00pm because of the darkness.

According to market authorities, the market owes National Water and Sewerage Cooperation over shillings 90 million and Umeme over shillings 68 million which they have failed to pay over time.

Ayubu Madoi, the chairperson of Mbale central market says that the leadership of the market is struggling to pay the bills hence why utilities in the market are on and off.

He says that the vendors have for a long time suffered without water with the current situation of COVID-19 that requires people to wash hands becoming hard because of the lack of water in the market.

According to Madoi, the high water tariffs levied by the NWSC has made it hard for them to adequately pay the water bills saying that they are charged 8,200 shillings which is too high and pleaded to management of NWSC to reduce.

Yusuf Nsubuga, the secretary of the market says that the water bills in the market are exaggerated by some of the NWSC officials.

Mudebo Zakaria, the secretary for produce says that the increasing problems of the market are attributed to lack of enforcement in the collection of the market dues.

Kasim Namugali, the Mayor Mbale City said that there is need to find a permanent solution for the problem of water and electricity in the market. He said the city council is committed to streamlining the operations of the markets across the city.

The vendors say the continued blackouts of water and electricity in the market have affected their operations because business stalls.

They say the uncoordinated operations of council and the market leadership has let them down because they don’t pay the bills on time yet the vendors pay their dues.

Victor Gamwanga, a coffee producer in the market says that some of the vendors fail to pay their bills which increases on the arrears which forces Umeme to put off the power until some of the bills are paid.

He noted that vendors buy water they use from outside the market.

Badru Wandwasi, the general manager of NWSC in Mbale branch says that the organaisation understands the challenge the market goes through in paying the bills but can only be solved if the council, market and NWSC come together.

He says that the high tariffs billed in collaboration with the sewage charge which is 100% of the water consumed shouldn’t be used as a deterrent to pay the water bills in the market.

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