Vendors in Mbale town have accused the Municipal Council of illegally allocating stalls and shops in the new market. Mbale main market is one of the seven markets being redeveloped under the Markets and Agricultural Trade Improvement Programme (MATIP-1), with funding from Government and the African development Bank.
The vendors were recently relocated from the main market to pave way from its redevelopment.
They are accordingly protesting the move by some municipal council officials who they claim are taking bribes of between 2 to 5 million shillings from outsiders so as they are allocated 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 claiming that some municipal officials they declined to name for fear of being reprimanded are involved.
Hussein Mbaraka, one of the vendors claims that a friend who never registered with the council at the time of relocation has paid 2.5 million shillings to one of the council officials and he has been assured of a space in the new market.
Mbaraka fears that such illegal allocations may sideline some of them who are genuine vendors of their stalls. He is demanding that the Ministry of Local Government which is supervising the whole exercise to intervene to save the situation.
Irene Nakutu, another vendor claims that some municipal officials have been secretly moving around to extort bribes from those whose names are not on the list of vendors to get space in the new market, with the intention of illegally allocating to them space there.
But James Kutosi, the Mbale Municipal Public Relations officer, says upon completion the new market would accomodate about 15,000 vendors, more than double the number of vendors who were relocated from there.
He says those who registered at the time of relocation would be given priority and the remaining space would be advertised for the public through the Public Procurement and Disposal Act - PPDA. Kutosi says they are yet to establish a criterion on how to give the space to the vendors.
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Kutosi dismissed claims that the Municipal council was illegally allocating the space in the market to outsiders. He says the council officials extorting money from the vendors are doing it illegally and accordingly warned the public against such move.
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Mbale main market is one of the seven markets being redeveloped under the Markets and Agricultural Trade Improvement Programme (MATIP-1), with funding from Government and the African development Bank. Other markets being developed are Wandegeya in Kampala, Gulu, Lira, Fort Portal, Jinja and Hoima.
Mbale market is due for commissioning in March.