Gulu municipal law enforcement officers and police have evicted more than 500 vendors operating on the town streets.
The one-week operation saw vendors especially mothers scampering with their merchandise. They accused the municipal officials of incessant harassment yet many of them are widows who lost their husbands during the LRA insurgency.
Ms Santa Atoo, 38, a widow and resident of Layibi Zone, says she lost her husband during the two-decade insurgency and has been relying on street vending to fend for her five children.
“When the father of my children passed on, I was denied access to land by my husband’s family and my own family. It’s through selling these empty mineral water bottles and jerrycans that I am able to keep life going,” she agonised.
During the operation, Ms Atoo lost merchandise worth Shs120,000, which she says was nearly her entire working capital.
Gulu Municipal Mayor George Labeja said they carried out the eviction to restore sanity and cleanliness in the town. “These vendors have now turned the streets into an open market. The streets are littered with garbage. That is also a health threat,” Mr Labeja said. He said the vendors do not pay taxes yet their colleagues who moved to the temporary sites at Kakanyero and Kaunda Ground and are paying.