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Vendors, Arua city authorities clash over planned market demolition

Arua city authorities have resoled to demolish Owino and Lobida food markets. File Photo

Arua, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | There is a bitter row between a section of vendors and Arua city authorities over the proposed demolition of the temporary Owino and Lobida food markets.

The markets located along Lemerijoa and Idi Amin road in Central division, host more than one thousand vendors and operate on privately owned pieces of land.

The decision to demolish the ungazetted markets was reached at during a joint executive committee meeting held at Arua central division offices on Tuesday last week, following a petition by vendors in the central market to the city authorities. In their petition, the vendors gave Arua city authorities a seven-day ultimatum to prevail over street vendors and demolish the ungazetted markets or else they demonstrate.

It was further resolved that the vendors be relocated back to the main market while the remaining ones will be moved to the temporary social centre market, located along Ediofe Cathedral road.

However, the affected vendors have rejected the move saying the location for textiles on the first floor of the new market is inaccessible for their customers and the stalls are too small.

Habib Govule, the chairperson of Owino second-hand clothes and Lobida food markets has accused the city authorities of making a decision to demolish the market and evict the vendors without consulting them. Govule wonders why the city continues to collect market dues from them and yet they say the market is illegal.

Meanwhile, Sharon Tiko, the chairperson of Lobida food market vendors contends that the available unallocated spaces in the central market cannot accommodate all the market vendors. She however advises the city authorities to construct a new market as a lasting solution.

But Arua City Mayor, Sam Wadri Nyakua says the planned demolition of the ungazetted markets will proceed as planned. He says the majority of the vendors operating in illegal markets have stalls in the new market, noting that they are going to ensure they are occupied by the owners. According to Wadri, every month the city loses 10million shillings from the main market due to operation of ungazetted markets and street vending.

Owino and Lobida food markets emerged shortly after vendors were relocated to temporary market sites to pave way for the construction of the multi-billion Arua central market in 2017, under the second phase of the Market and Agricultural Trade Improvement Programme (MATIP II).

This is not the first time the vendors and Arua city authorities are clashing over demolition of Owino and Lobida markets. In April this year, vendors rejected an attempt by the city authorities to demolish the markets saying there is no business in the new market.

Currently, there are at least 755 unallocated stalls and 500 abandoned stalls in the new market, according to records at the office of the city mayor.

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