Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Vendors who were recently relocated to Usafi market following their eviction from Kampala streets are struggling to make sales. Early this month, Kampala Capital City Authority-KCCA under its Smart City campaign started evicting vendors and hawkers off of the streets of Kampala to create trade order.
Over 100 street vendors and hawkers have taken up stalls in Usafi market in Mengo since the campaign started early last month. However, some of the former street vendors and hawkers are complaining about low sales in Usafi market compared to the sale they used to make on the streets.
Hafsa Nalunga who sells tomatoes in Usafi market, says that there are a few customers compared to the roadside at Entebbe road where she used to sell from. She says that the stalls allocated to them are far from the market lane where customers pass and easily buy foods hence favoring only those at the front.
She also complains about the lack of parking space in the market for customers to park their boda bodas, bicycles, or vehicles before accessing the market to do shopping. She says lack of proper parking hinders potential customers from coming to the market.
Nalunga’s story is quite similar to that of Audrey Katushabe who sells cowpeas in Usafi market. Before KCCA forced them into Usafi market, she would sell at least 5 cups of cowpeas to customers along Entebbe road where she worked from.
But since she came to the market, Katushabe says that she can barely make any sales a day. Katushabe who previously owned a stall in Usafi had abandoned it and only used it while shelling the peas before heading for the streets every evening.
But now, she is scared that even when she gets to the streets in the evening, KCCA law enforcement officers might arrest her and confiscate her merchandise.
Joviah Amperiire, another vendor says KCCA should devise means to establish parking for customers coming to the market to shop, otherwise, the sales are likely to remain low for most of the vendors.
Amperiire also had a stall in Usafi market, having acquired it in 2014, a year after the opening of the market. But she left the market because there were a few customers coming there. Just like her colleagues, Amperiire says she can’t make as many sales as she used to while on the streets.
That it’s traders who bring agricultural produce in large quantities to sell at a wholesale price that make some money and not the retail seller waiting for small quantity buyers. She has appealed to KCCA to allow them to hawk their merchandise in the market and the park premises to maximize their sales especially at the time when there are more passengers coming into the park.
Twaib Amwoogereza who operates in Usafi park says that KCCA should make sure that all taxis meant to operate from Usafi do so, such that the number of passengers coming to the park increases and hence the possibility of increasing the number of people who could also use Usafi market.
He specifically pointed to Entebbe stage, which he says should be solely at Usafi market to boost it and attract more passengers hence buyers in the market. The taxi park was established partly as a supporting establishment to the market.
He has also appealed to KCCA to allow vendors from Usafi market to hawk their merchandise in the park so as to maximize their sales.
But Muhammad Ssegwanyi, the spokesperson of Usafi market says that the market is picking up and that the new entrants should be patient. He also added that KCCA has permitted vendors to operate in all areas of the Usafi market, the park inclusive especially in evening hours to hawk their products. The vendors can also use the lanes separating the park from the market.
Market vendors who have persisted working in the market, say there is a slight improvement in sales. Several however depend more on routine customers they have bonded with over the years selling items to them.
Others, especially those dealing in clothes maximize their sales during Sunday markets they attend, some days in the week. Usafi itself runs a Friday market during which the road between the park and the market is closed to locomotives to permit vendors to sell their merchandise.