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Vendors abandon Gulu main market lockups over poor access

Gulu main market

Gulu, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | More than 30 lockup shops in Gulu main market have been abandoned by vendors due to poor accessibility.

Commissioned in 2015, the market has 400 lockup shops accommodating hundreds of vendors.

However, vendors say the northern wing of the market consisting of about 50 lockup shops on the first floor has failed to attract permanent vendors.

Santo Obura, the Manager of Gulu Market Sacco, who owns an office in the Northern section of the market says accessibility has remained their biggest challenge ever since the market was opened.

Obura says the majority of clients who visit the market fail to reach the northern section because it’s isolated with no access, leaving vendors renting the shops with no sales.

Obura notes that in past, they raised complaints to the former municipal leaders prompting an intervention to erect a metallic staircase from outside the market.

He however says the work has stalled after the contractor abandoned the project for unclear reasons.

Obura called on the City council officials to respond to their plight by ensuring external access linking the lockup shops on the northern wing is created.

Wily Lubangakene, a businessman renting one of the lockup shops says businesses which involve the display of stocks are impossible to run in the northern wing of the market. He says a few businessmen like him who are owning shops in the market section are using it for other purposes such as offices and coordinating centres.

Gulu Main Market Vendors Association Chairperson Patrick Omaya says that they have several times raised the matter to Gulu City Council authorities but no feedback has been given on their concerns. Omaya says whereas vendors need space for businesses, the available lockup shops can’t be of any help because of their inaccessible location.

Last week, hundreds of vendors occupying the parking space at Gulu Main Market were evicted by Gulu City Council law enforcement officials backed by military personnel in a move aimed at restoring trade order.

Gulu City Principal Commercial Officer Nixon Atemo Komakech however says the majority of the vendors have shunned the lockup shops even when they are vacant.

He admitted that a previous contractor hired to construct an access stair at 38 million shillings three years ago abandoned the project over a low budget.

Komakech says the city council is now hunting for money to construct an access route that will ease business at the market’s Northern section.

Gulu Main Market hosts more than 4,000 registered vendors dealing in various businesses.



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