Traders in Mbale have rioted over the closure of Mbale Main Supermarket. Mbale Municipal Council on Wednesday morning closed down Mbale Main Supermarket allegedly to give room for redevelopment.
The closure has however affected 10,000 traders who have been operating in the main supermarket. The traders reported for their normal business but were shocked to find all the gates to the market barricaded.
The angry traders held a demonstration up to the office of the Mbale Town Clerk where they expressed their grievances. The complaints of the traders include; failure by the council to notify them of the closure, forced signing of tenancy agreement, the order to vacate the market for fifteen months and a clause in the memorandum of understanding that requires some of them to be permanently relocated to other markets.
James Okotel, one of the affected traders complained that the closure was done in a suspicious manner without consulting the stakeholders.
Okotel said the traders fear that the council may have sold the market to private developers.
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Sarah Mukhwana the Mbale Main Supermarket Secretary for Women Affairs accused officials of Mbale Municipal of having a hidden agenda in the closure of the market.
She claimed that the officials may have closed the market in order to lease it to private developers.
Norbert Turihikayo, the Mbale Town Clerk said the traders rioted after rumors circulated in the market that the council intends to sale the market to United Bank of Africa.
Turihikayo explained that the council is in the process of securing a loan from African Development Bank (ADB) to redevelop the market. He however said the traders will not be immediately evicted from the market.
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Turihikayo however did not explain the circumstances under which the market was closed.