More than 600 vendors in Masaka Central Market have refused register with their municipal authorities and have vowed not to sign a Memorandum of Understanding that would see their eventual removal from the market.
The land on which Masaka Central Market is located is to be redeveloped into a modern shopping center. The municipal authorities have written to the vendors asking them to temporarily relocate to a children's park opposite Masaka Secondary School to pave way for the building of the new shopping complex.
The letter from the Assistant Town Clerk in charge of Katwe-Butego, Benon Iga, says Masaka Central Market is one of 21 markets countrywide targeted for redevelopment through funding from the African Development Bank. It gives the vendors two months to register with the authorities and to relocate.
Abbas Zziwa, vice chairperson of the Masaka Central Market Vendors' Association, claims the move is a ploy to steal the market. He says the municipality has not given them any assurances that they will benefit from the redevelopment or will be granted first priority to occupy the new market when it is completed.
Lawrencia Nakamatte, who has been in the market for the last 20 years, says there is no security in the children's park and relocating would put her business at risk. She argues that her income would be greatly reduced by the transfer because it is far from the central business district.
Nakamatte vows not to leave until she is forced to.
//Cue in: iWe are not going anywhere #i
Cue out: i# it's a total mess.i//
For Masaka Municipal Council, there is no question about the move.
Nick Byegira, the Town Clerk, says the market belongs to the municipality and the vendors are only tenants. He says any redevelopment would only be for the benefit of the dissenting vendors.
//Cue in: iWe have the title #i
Cue out: i#chairperson of the vendors.i//
Masaka Central Market is the biggest in the region, serving traders from Kalangala, Lyantonde, Rakai, and Sembabule.
african development bank