HomeBUSINESSVendors block MPs over 100,000 rental fees

Vendors block MPs over 100,000 rental fees

Joshua Nahamya


Mbarara Central market vendors have stopped parliamentarians from accessing the newly constructed market over the prohibitive rental fees for lock-ups in the new Mbarara Central Market.

During an oversight to assess the performance of newly constructed markets under the Markets and Agriculture Trade Improvement Project [MATIP II] to alleviate poverty and improve agricultural trade, members of parliament on the Public Service and Local Government Committee met resistance from vendors not to access the central market over the unresolved rental fees they are supposed to pay to the city council authorities.

While carrying placards, the angry fishmongers vowed not to pay the monthly Shs 100,000 rental fees, claiming it was too high.

Emmanule Muhumuza, Chairman Mbarara central market association raising some of the vendors’ grievances faced at the market. Joshua Nahamya

According to Justine Natukunda, chairperson of the fish vendors, the affected mongers are just 15 in number dealing in fresh fish in the market. “We are 15 fresh fish vendors being oppressed by exorbitant rent fees in the market so we are asking why this imbalance?” Natukunda said

Previously, the city council was charging fishmongers Shs 30,000 per month but after reconstructing the central market, rent fees were increased to Shs 100,000 per kiosk.

Kraish Rugema, the publicity secretary for fish vendors, argued that the new market was constructed for low-income earners whose businesses are mainly meant to cater to family needs.

He criticized the city authorities for ignoring their pleas over time to have the rental fees reduced thus appealing to the government to solve their matter amicably.

“We petitioned the city council to reduce it to at least Shs 50,000. They refused. And we are protesting for the third time now because we cannot afford to pay all that much because we have spent all this time without complying,” Rugema said.

Abas Nsengimana highlighted a lot of costs they incur which include water and electricity bills that must be reduced if they are to do business from the city market.

“Our deep freezers consume about 10,000 shillings per day if you multiply that by 30 days, that is Shs 300,000 per month,” he said adding that, a unit of water is Shs 11,000 and we usually use two units meaning 22000 a month if you add all this n rent, it means every month we spend Shs 422,000 and that is a lot of money that we cannot get from the fish business”. Nsengimana explained

Robert Mugabe Kakyebezi, mayor of Mbarara city told the members of parliament that the city has so far lost over 28 mln to the fish vendors that have not been paying the monthly rental fees since September 2022. “After the grace period in June 2022, these fish vendors have not been paying rent meaning that as a council we have lost a lot of money,” Kakyebezi said

He accused the city town clerk of failing to implement the rent fees supposed to be paid by the fifteen fishmongers.

“If other vendors are paying the same rent charges put by the city council then why not the fish vendors” he said adding that, we blame the town clerk for not implementing because there is no other person who will tell us not to charge the fish vendors. And if they don’t pay I will go to the market and tell even the rest not to pay then you will face it rough so please the grace period ended yesterday and by Monday those people must have paid or left the market” Kakyebezi explained

He also asked the parliamentarians to amend the Markets Act, of 2023 so that it can cater to the vendors’ leadership.

“I have heard about this new market act putting aside the leadership of the market but the town clerk and the so-called market master cannot manage the market vendors. Let them do the technical part but the arrangement of dealing with vendors must be within the mandate of the vendors’ leadership because they know themselves” Kakyebezi said

He also appealed to the members of parliament to put a charge against people who come to benchmark from the Mbarara central market.

“We have got a big number of people coming to learn from Mbarara as a successful market under the MATIP II programme but these people once they come spend a lot of time here and we spend on them by facilitating their presence here which I believe we should start getting something from them so that they don’t suffocate our small budget,” Kakyebezi said

Allan Buhanda Karakure, senior commercial officer in Mbarara city appealed to parliamentarians to consider the time frame the vendors should operate from the incubation market to allow new vendors to utilize the market opportunities.

“As a country we are not coming out with a clear guide for how long someone should be in the incubation market to create space for others to come. Otherwise we are creating a scenario where someone will be a vendor for life” Karakure said

Meanwhile, Mbarara Central Market Association chairman, Emmanuel Muhumuza said that fresh fish vendors are not special from all the vendors thus appealing to them to clear the council dues.

“If as a market association I am paying rent and equally all the other vendors are paying then why are fishmongers refusing to pay rent,” Muhumuza said.

Despite the ongoing protests, Faisal Ssali Kikulukunyu, Principal development officer ministry of local government representing the permanent secretary, challenged the fishmongers to pay the government funds.

“Let these people not disturb us, the market is for everybody let the willing people join. If you are not remitting for the services you are enjoying then the city should take you on but they should also not use excessive force” Kikulukunyu said

Hon Jovanice Rwenduru, representing Kiruhura district, appealed to the city leadership to establish a health facility for the growing population in the market.

“You are aware that the market accommodates a number of different people including the children so why didn’t you consider a medical facility to cater for any emerging health issue in the market” Rwenduru said

Jimmy Lwanga, Acting Chairperson Public Service and Local Government Committee also asked the city vendors to pay the government money. “If something needs enforcement you enforce for the good of the market and the good of Mbarara city so town clerk you need to act,” Lwanga said

The chairman also said that as parliament they are tussling with the government to ensure that locally raised revenue should not go to consolidated funds to ensure proper service delivery across the country.

“As a committee of local government we are fighting with the ministry of finance to see that local governments are given back their financial independence for effective service delivery,” he said adding that, we have reached an extent of presenting it on the flow of parliament and the speaker has already ruled,” he said

Assy Abirebe Tumwesigire, the city town clerk, pledged to enforce so that the city council can recover its money from the noncompliant fish vendors. “We are going to enforce the payment of rent fees from fish vendors and I appreciate your guidance,” Tumwesigire said

Mbarara Central Market is one of the newly constructed markets across the country, with support from the African Development Bank [AfDB] to contribute towards poverty reduction and economic growth through enhanced marketing of agricultural produce and other merchandise.

Also to increase production and marketing of agricultural commodities, enhance the income of vendors, and increase employment, customer satisfaction, and revenue generation.

Mbarara Central Market, constructed at a cost of Shs 21 billion, accommodates 195 vendors and has facilities like food courts (04), daycare (01), restaurants, stalls (227), and lock-ups (744), pitches (85), cages (26), hotel, daycare center among others.

The market located along the junction of three streets of Bishop Wills, Mbaguta, and Bulemba in Mbarara City’s south division is among the 12 regional markets implemented under phase II of Uganda through the Ministry of Local Government with funding from the African Development Bank (ADB).



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