When Charles Oweka and Simon Komakech begun selling paraffin at in Layibi division, industrial area village in 1995, they did not know that the trading centre will be named after them.
In the early 90s the area had only one retail shop (kiosk), that was always locked by 5pm. Therefore, being the first young men who started a kiosk that would be open till late, the locals decided to name their shop, Gang pa Oweka (meaning the home of Oweka)this is because he was always selling at the counter as his business partner, Komakech went out looking for other options to expand their business.
Oweka says then, most parents used to send their children to go and buy items from Oweka, which later made it the popular name of their shop as well as the name of the trading centre as the area developed.
The trading centre is just about 100m from Kampala Road along
Salvatore Road and it is only a kilometre from Gulu Town centre .
“We started by selling paraffin separately but later decided to partner and start a retail shop in 1995, being the first of the kind in the area, our business started very well which prompted us to add more services such as video hall and public address system,” Oweka explains.
How it developed
Being the only shop with limited goods and items, customers kept demanding for other services such as bars and restaurants yet the two businessmen had limited resources and could not meet their demands.
“This situation prompted Komakech to talk to his father who was the biggest land lord in the area to rent out part of his land to other business people to put up other shops, bars and restaurants and services,” Oweka explains.
Closer to the locals.
Komakech says this prompted other local businessmen to come and rent land from his father in 1998 at the cost of Shs5,000 per month.
Komakech explains that currently, the area is full of temporally structures because in the past, Gulu Municipal Council had planned the place for an industrial area which prohibited the construction of commercial businesses.
But as Gulu plans to become a city, the council has now decided to develop the area into a commercial centre because of it’s recent developments and it’s near the city centre.
Komakech explains that “In 1994 a 50 by 100ft plot of land in the area cost between Shs50,000 and Shs90,000 but because of its ideal location for business, new plans from Gulu Municipal Council to turn it into a commercial area plus the rapid development and opening of new roads in the area, 50 by 100ft of land now cost between Shs50m and above.”