Traders are embroiled in a leadership wrangle over the new Hoima central market which is being upgraded by government. The traders, who were temporarily relocated from the old dilapidated market to Hoima Booma grounds about two years ago, are expected to return to the newly-reconstructed market next month.
The chairperson of the traders, Mr Omuhereza Kunihira, told the First Deputy Prime Minister, Mr Henry Kajura, recently that there are vendors opposed to the association running the market. “We formed an association for this market. However, some vendors are fighting it. We are deeply divided,” Ms Kunihira said.
While some traders are members of the association headed by Mr Kunihira, the majority of traders are loyal to the market committee headed by Mr Edward Kamukumba. Some traders told the minister that the new market is too small to accommodate them. “We had 11 butcheries in the old market. In this new market, there are only five,” said Mr Godfrey Kutegeka, the local council vice chairman of the Hoima Central Market.
The vendors said unlike the old market, the new one lacks stalls for those trading in clothes, charcoal and poultry.
Mr Kutegeka said the traders are living in uncertainty because the municipal officials have not told them the criteria that will be used in allocating stalls in the upgraded market. They also said the charges for each stall have not been made public.
The traders fear to miss out on the stall allocations. Minister Kajura, who is also the Hoima Municipality MP, visited the new market recently to talk to the traders. “Write a petition asking for a a bigger market. I will follow it up with the relevant government agencies and development partners,” Mr Kajura told the traders.
Hoima mayor Grace Mugasa said the municipality will set up four other smaller markets. He said the new market will be entirely for the traders who originally had stalls there. “If you occupy it and some stalls remain vacant, we shall advertise them transparently and invite other traders to bid for them,” Mugasa said.
Kahoora Division Town Clerk Sam Muganzi urged the traders to be calm, saying the old market is being upgraded to allow them operate in a better environment and earn more income. The central market was built by government with funding from the Africa Development Bank. The market will cost about Shs14 billion and is expected to be complete by next month. It is designed to house banking facilities, a police station, a conference hall and a health centre, among others.