Entebbe, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Vendors are vacating Kitooro market over the high market rates.
The market has 1,075 spaces for stalls and lock-up shops but there are less than 330 vendors occupying the space, despite the council projecting to collect over one billion shillings from rent by end of the 2022/2023 financial year.
According to the rates set by the council, traders with stalls for food, fresh vegetables, fish, fruits, and charcoal pay between 20,000 and 30,000 Shillings while those with butcheries and chicken cages pay 80,000 Shillings per month.
Traders occupying lock-up shops pay 120,000 Shillings and 490,000 depending on the location of the shop.
In March, Charles Magumba, the Entebbe town clerk said monthly collections since September 2021 have been dismal. He noted that the majority of the vendors failed or deliberately refused to pay rent, while others abandoned the market over high fees.
Fred Lutaaya, the assistant town clerk for Division B, says that the situation has remained the same. He adds that the council is collecting less than 25 million Shillings per month compared to the projected 285 million Shillings per month.
The Municipal Council gave vendors a grace period of three months when they relocated into the reconstructed market.
The division council has now issued a notice to all vendors to clear their arrears as a condition for renewing their tenancy agreements which expire on July 30.
The technical planning committee at Division B which was tasked to look into the concerns raised by vendors is yet to present its findings and recommendations to the executive committee.
Robert Kusambira, the Market Committee chairperson says the vendors face challenges of high rent, the presence of street vendors near the market, and weekly markets in Kitooro and Entebbe municipality. This he says has pushed some vendors out of the market.
Sharon Nantumbwe, a vendor of fresh fruits and vegetables says the council should be lenient with defaulters since they have been making losses in the past year.
But Samuel Kutesa, a vendor wants his colleagues to renew their tenancy agreements with the council by paying all the arrears for monthly rent. He says it is the role of the market leaders to push the council to reduce the rent.
Some of the vendors including Sarah Anguyo, Ronah Ankunda have vacated the market, saying they were making losses and unable to pay the monthly rent.
Kitooro market is one of the 12 modern markets constructed under the Markets and Agriculture Trade Improvement Project-MATIP-2 program. Other markets include Busia, Masaka, Kasese, Arua, Soroti, Mbarara, Moroto, Tororo, Lugazi, Kitgum, and Kabale.
The market was reconstructed at a cost of 24 Billion Shillings and commissioned last year.