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Reallocation of market vendors halted in Soroti

Soroti main market is at the center of controversy. File Photo

Soroti, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | The committee comprising of head of security and officials from the Ministry of Local Government have halted the allocation of lockups in Soroti main market over disagreements between the city council authorities and market vendors.

The decision was arrived at during an emergency meeting attended by Soroti city authorities, Ministry of Local Government officials and selected vendors at the market premises on Friday.

The meeting that dragged on for almost a whole day resolved to halt the allocation exercise after receiving a report of an investigation conducted in the market.

In the report, more than 400 complaints were recorded from various stakeholders including market vendors implicating several leaders in the allocation mess. Some of the complaints include; bribery allegations against some city leaders in collusion with leaders of the market vendors, double allocation and segregation among others.

Robert Adiama, the Resident City Commissioner of Soroti says the meeting put up a committee that will handle all the complaints raised before the allocation of lockups resumes in the market. He revealed that the process is expected to take five days beginning on June 14th-19th, 2021.

The decision by the committee is informed by the rising tension between vendors and their leaders over misallocation, missing names, missing space and other complaints that climaxed on May 22nd with vendors almost beating up officials in the market.

Some vendors are accusing their leader, George William Eriebat, the chairperson of Soroti market vendors association for allegedly ignoring the genuine list of vendors in preference for the new entrants who claim have paid money to have the lockups in the market.

Hellen Tino, one of the market vendors whose name is missing in the list of vendors initially verified for the lockups says she owned three lockups in the old market before it was demolished. She however notes that she was shocked when her name didn’t appear in the list.

“I registered as a landlady when Soroti Municipality Council convinced us to leave this place for the construction of a modern market. I submitted all the required documents to that effect but to my dismay, other people have been considered leaving me behind,” says Tino.

She says she was in the hospital in Kampala when the news of the struggle for market space reached her. She explains that on reaching Soroti, her relatives had instead been given space.

But Moses Otimong, the acting city town clerk in Soroti insists that the allocations were done following the Memorandum of Understanding reached with vendors at the commencement of work.

The Shillings 24 billion market was constructed with funding from the African Development Bank and commissioned by President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni in November last year.

It was expected to commence operations in March this year after 1,316 vendors were reported to have been vetted but the process has continued to drag on.

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