A team of officials from the Ministry of Local Government is in Mbale to address the recent protest by vendors over illegal allocation of stalls in the newly constructed Mbale Market. The vendors who were last year relocated from the main market to pave way for its redevelopment had accused Mbale Municipal Council authorities of illegally allocating stalls and shops in the new market.
The vendors who were recently relocated from the main market to pave way for its redevelopment had accused Mbale Municipal Council authorities of illegally allocating stalls and shops in the new market. They protested the move by some municipal council officials who they claim are taking bribes of between two to five million shillings from outsiders to allocate them space in the market.
In 2011, Mbale Municipality relocated more than 5,000 vendors from the main market to the various markets within the town. Most of the vendors went to Pallisa road, Bugwere road, Lorry Park and Kumi road markets among others. Others have since been operating on the streets.
Before they were relocated, the vendors signed a memorandum of understanding with the Municipal council to the effect that they would return to their spaces once the construction work is complete.
However, the vendors are now complaining of illegal allocations pinning some municipal officials they declined to name of being involved. They petitioned the Ministry of Local Government to intervene and help them.
Now the Ministry has sent a team led by Rose Mary Mbabazi, the Community, Agriculture and Infrastructural Development Officer. The team held a meeting with the Municipal authorities and the vendors’ leadership at the new market to address the matter.
In the meeting, the ministry officials resolved to establish an allocation committee that would comprise of representatives from the vendors, municipal council and the Ministry to ensure all procedures are adhered to.
Mbabazi says the committee will spearhead all the allocation activities as was signed in the Memorandum between the vendors and the Municipal council. She also asked the vendors who were fully registered not to allow to be bullied by any outsider and or Municipal authorities.
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She says the new market due for commissioning in March this year has facilities like banks, a police station, parking yard and children’s Day Care Centre, pharmacy and water among others to ease the vendors’ operation. She asked them to utilize the modern facilities to boost their trade with business partners in Kenya and Sudan among others.
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James Kutosi, the Mbale Municipal Council Public Relations Officer, says the processes of scrutinizing the lists of the registered vendors will begin next week by the established committee.
Kutosi says they will also come up with the modalities on how to give out the extra space that will remain after the registered vendors have received theirs. He says the space in the new market is more than double the number of registered vendors.
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Kutosi insists that the registered vendors will be considered a priority and that the allocation exercise will be transparent through the procurement and disposal unit of the council.
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Mbale main market is one of the seven markets including Gulu, Lira, Hoima, Fort Portal, Wandegeya and Jinja being redeveloped under the Markets and Agricultural Trade Improvement Programme (MATIP-1), with funding from Government and the African Development Bank.