Friday December 29 2017

2017 was difficult - traders

A cross-section of traders and customers at one

A cross-section of traders and customers at one of the busiest sections of Kikuubo Trading Centre in Kampala during a recent back - to- school shopping season. FILE PHOTO 

By Christine Kasemiire


With only two days left to the end of this year, downtown traders share their views about the business environment in 2017.
Many traders are happy a New Year is approaching because it is putting an end to 2017. Along the New Taxi Park pathway is street vendor Ms Usna Ainembabazi, a wholesale and retail vendor of clothes.
2017 has been a tough year for the mother. She says she is vexed on where money is because customers are poor. She says even in the festive season where much selling was anticipated, only crumbs were earned. The vendor is worried about where the future of the ‘lower’ person is.
She castigates importers and middlemen who increase prices of products in reference to high taxes, without regard for the final consumer who will not understand the price changes. She says they merely move on in hopes of getting cheaper products but when they fail, they pay another trader which is still a loss on her account.
Worse still, in addition to the inflated prices, she says the quality of the products is poor.
Lack of market for goods has with time destroyed the goods, consequently leading to loss of capital and likelihood for her family.
When responding to her relationship with Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA), Ms Ainembabazi says she recognises the work and relevance it has done to clear streets of multitudes of vendors who would cause traffic.
However, she criticises them for handling traders like thieves.
Ms Olivia Rukundo believes the same. She says 2016 was much better than 2017 where she made Shs10m profit, compared to only Shs1m this year. She says poverty is prompting people to steal.
“When people are many on streets, people think we are making money yet most of those people are thieves,” she disputes.
Contrary to vendors, traders in commercial buildings say the year has been good.
Mr Edward Kayiwa, salesman of shoes in Chains of Liberty Mall, says he has sold shoes in wholesale worth Shs15m this festive season.
“For me this year, business has been good. Of course taxes are a pressing issue but I do not think it will change any time soon,” he says.
Even as a trader paying rent, Mr Kayiwa says he has no problem with street vendors because he understands they have nowhere to go. He advises government to build more markets to settle them.
Agreeing with him is Mr Habiibu Muusa Mukiibi, a scholastic materials dealer at Bwat Enterprises in Kikuubo, who wishes the same for the vendors. He encourages vendors to dream big and stop back and forth run-ins with KCCA.
When asked about how he acquired capital for his business, he says he worked and does not believe in loans. As a Moslem, he condemns loan acquisition for profits and says until Islamic banking commences in Uganda, he will never take up a loan.

In 2018, the traders want government to cut taxes so they can carry on with profitable trade.
Ms Ainembabazi thinks if government cut taxes, rent would in turn decrease, allowing them to afford and settle the vending problem.
However, Mr Kayiwa believes nothing much will change in the country concerning taxes and wishes to acquire knowledge on how to manage businesses.
Mr Mukiibi finalises by asking that Islamic banking is flagged off in 2018 so he can use it to build his business further.