Kampala. When traders of Kisekka market embarked on a project to erect a multi-billion shopping mall, some skeptics doubted their financial ability to accomplish such a mega project.
Three years down the road, the traders now boast of being among a group of developers changing the Kampala City skyline.
The market on Plot 9A 1 Kyaggwe Road in Kampala measures 3.725 acres.
The construction is entirely funded by individual savings from traders, and upon completion, it will host more than 2,500 traders who once operated in makeshift stalls and shops six years ago.
The planned five storeyed shopping mall started to rise from the rubble in March 2015, and almost three floors on one of the four blocks are nearing completion. The entire complex will have its fifth floor as a parking lot.
But even before its completion, traders are swarming the complex to book space.
According to Mr Robert Kisembo Kasolo, the chairperson of the traders, everything is moving on well save for a few complaints from a section of members.
He revealed to Daily Monitor that currently, finishes including shuttering are being done and soon the shops will be open for use.
“We are going through untold criticism, something that has at times crippled efforts to work under the timelines planned to have the project completed. We are however decisive and we will soon commission shops allocated to those who fully paid,” Mr Kasolo in an interview on Wednesday.
According to Mr Simon Peter Lubwama, the traders’ spokesperson, each member is supposed to pay Shs1.05m. This, he said, caters for membership and lease fees, that is Shs50,000 and Shs1m respectively.
“The entire lease was secured at a cost of Shs1.52 billion,” Mr Lubwama said.
He said the rent for spaces and shops varies according to floors or levels of the building, noting that the basement and ground floor are more expensive.
“Initially, we had fixed rent charges in local currency but as the shillings keeps depreciating we are charging in dollars,” he said.
According to Mr Lubwama, space at the basement and first floor costs $1,413 per square metre.
Ideally, a trader would need at least 10 square metres to make the average cost for a shop which is $14,130
He said at least 95 per cent of the traders were tenants and some have already paid to become automatic land lords.
“Our able and committed traders who have put aside their foes have managed to contribute Shs30 billion. All the money being used is from traders,” Mr Lubwama said.
He said a big percentage of the money has been allocated towards architectural work, actual construction and settling court battles.
According to Mr Lubwama, the project had initially been planned to be completed in a period of two years, but a slow cash flow and politics have prolonged the construction.
“Can you imagine we had gotten a credit facility from an investor in Singapore, but it was frustrated by a delegation that met and scared him away claiming that we are government opponents who would cause losses to him,” Mr Lubwama alleged.
“They told him that as soon he sends us the money, government will attach it and he would lose out,” he added.
On Wednesday, Mr Lubwama announced plans to start the allocation of shops on Block A .
“Whoever paid first will be allocated a shop. We are out of schedule but still on course. We want people to start using their shops as soon as possible,” he said.
Mr Lubwama put the number of registered traders within the market at 2,500, but indicated that “not all our members will be able to pay the required fees to get shops. We will soon ask government to permit us source outsiders who are able to buy shops to come on board.”
The news immediately drew a backlash to when Daily Monitor sought the views of a faction of the market vendors led by Mr Geoffrey Kayita about the developments at the market.
“We told them (Mr Kasolo’s group) that they did not have the required funds. The only system was to create a mortgage package for our traders so that they would pay in 15 years,” Mr Kayita said.
“That proposed plan is against the intentions of the project. We cannot allow them [Kasolo’s group] to go ahead with such a plan. As we have always said, they want to kick out the real owners in favour of outsiders,” Mr Kayita said yesterday by telephone.
Mr Kayita accuses Kasolo’s group of registering more than 900 people, who are not traders in the market
But Mr Lubwama lashed out at the claims saying “all those in our register are members of the market.”
Mr Kayita seems to have based his fears on a similar scenario which occurred in the nearby Shauriyako Market where traders mobilised funds and erected a modern shopping mall, but after completing the project, they lost their shops to moneyed city businessmen as they could not pay the exorbitant fees set by their leaders.
Traders in St Balikuddembe Market are also planning to redevelop their market but internal bickering among leaders is still holding them back.
About the market
Nakivubo Road Old Kampala (Kisekka) Market Vendors Limited signed a construction agreement with Roko Construction Limited to put up a modern auto parts shopping centre. The entire budget at first stood at $33m but has since shot to $35m.
Kisekka market is the major auto parts centre in Uganda.
It employs all kinds of individuals from hawkers to whole sale dealers
Riots. Vendors at Kisekka Market have been embroiled in leadership wrangles for over a decade which have sometimes led to demonstrations and paralysed businesses in the city.
Traders formed themselves into Nakivubo Road Old Kampala (Kisekka) Market Vendors Limited in 2007 after bitter riots orchestrated by the defunct Kampala City Council’s decision to lease the market to Rhino Investments owned Col John Mugyenyi.
Factions. Following endless protests from traders, government in 2009 cancelled the lease and gave it back to the traders and compensated Col Mugyenyi with Shs15b.
In 2015, Mr Geoffrey Kayita and others broke away from the association and elected a parallel leadership that they registered with the Uganda Registrations bureau but this was revoked because of procedural issues. They then sued URSB in High Court but the case was judged in favour of the respondents.