Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Vendors of roasted chicken in Wandegeya are living in fear of eviction. The more than 80 vendors accuse their former coordinator, Joseph Kalema of severally threatening to evict them from their stalls.
Fred Mayanja, one of the vendors who has been roasting chicken in the market since 2015, says that Kalema who claims to own the space they operate from, keeps threatening to evict them for declining to pay monthly dues.
He explains that they stopped paying the dues following a directive by President Yoweri Museveni halting the payments. According to Mayanja, some of his colleagues like Ayub Africa and Frank Zziwa ended up in jail over trumped-up charges instigated by Kalema.
Mayanja explains that during the reconstruction on Wandegeya market, KCCA asked them to find space to operate from. He says that Kalema asked them to pay some money and collected Shillings 3.5 million, which he used to secure the space.
“We are surprised now to hear that these stalls are personal property. They are asking us to pay them, which we have refused,” Muyanja said. Patrick Kyomuhendo, another vendor says that Kalema solicited money from them with promises of getting them space in the market, which he is now claiming.
Ismail Juuko, another vendor says what hurts them most is their repeated arrest on trumped-up charges, because of following the president’s directive.
Mai Nabukenya, the interim leader of the market says that Kalema is one of the former leaders who used their authority to sell stalls to vendors. She said that the market is a government entity, which should not be used for selfish interests.
Joseph Kalema explains that during the construction works, he contacted the engineers and discovered that there was no provision for vendors of roasted chicken.
He says that KCCA directed them to the engineers they had to deal with to provide space for the vendors, adding that he injected Shillings 192 million in the project. According to Kalema, he borrowed money from Jonathan Gita which he used to construct the space for the vendors of roasted chicken.
He adds that he is not ready to lose his property to the vendors unless they compensate him his money.
Henry Bukenya, the manager of commercial services in KCCA says that Joseph Kalema and Jonathan Gita are some of the people who had multiple stalls in the old market. He explains that the agreement vendors working in the old market had with the government was that each vendor would get the exact number of stalls they had prior to the reconstruction.
He says that after the completion of the construction works, the vendors of roasted chicken did not have space in the market since they were not included in the plan. Bukenya claims that Kalema and Gita met with the former commissioner of gender, Harriet Mudondo and allowed them to improve that place by installing modern chicken stoves using their personal finances.
On September 25, 2020, President Museveni wrote to Kampala Minister Betty Amongi, saying that he was fed up with the takeover of markets and abattoirs in Kampala by people who later become leaders of the various associations and end up exploiting members of the public.
He said the exploitation is against his directives aimed at stopping multiple taxations.