Soroti, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | The Minister of Local Government Raphael Magezi, has directed Soroti city authorities to avail him a list of market vendors currently occupying stalls in Soroti main market.
Early this month, Soroti city authorities relocated vendors to the new multi-billion market after its completion last year. The city authorities have since been struggling to relocate vendors after realizing that many people claimed space in the new market.
Last week, ten vendors served Soroti City Council with a notice to sue after failing to access space in the new market. The vendors say that they signed a Memorandum of Understanding-MoU with Soroti municipality in 2016 to relocate to Pamba to create space for the construction of the new market. The vendors say they had space in the area now accommodating the market.
The vendors include George Akojoi, Isaac Aura, John Epudu, Michael Otigo, Samuel Pasama Opio, Catherine Aanyu, Mary Omagor, Richard Ebwonyu, Peter Elengu and Stephen Othieno. They say that in the MoU, landlords were supposed to be given priority in the allocation of space in the new market.
The vendors are seeking one Billion Shillings as compensation from Soroti City Council and other costs involved in litigation. They argue that the City Council has breached the agreement and will want legal redress since other options have not yielded results.
During a visit to Soroti on Wednesday, Magyezi was shocked to learn that some city staff and other individuals have allocated themselves more than five lockups each.
Damali Asekenye, the principle community development officer at the city says the allocation of space to the vendors was usurped by some individuals.
“It is true that we have people complaining after missing space in the main market. This should have been avoided had everyone heeded to our earlier arrangements. Some people rushed to the market and have occupied lockups without our knowledge”, she said.
Joshua Edogu, the City Mayor has directed all the staff of Soroti city who have stalls in the market to vacate them immediately.
At the moment, more than 2,000 vendors have been allocated space in the market constructed under the second phase of the Market and Agricultural Trade Improvement Program-MATIP2 with funding from the African Development Bank.
The 24 Billion Shillings market was commissioned in November last year. The market in addition to stalls and lockups has CCTV cameras linked to the Soroti Central Police Station, 500,000-litre water tank, butchers, cold rooms and service centres.
The new market has prayer rooms, restaurants, day-care facilities, meeting rooms, and a police post.