Thursday March 2 2017

Doctors of the economy are being strangled by the mandarins, tumbus

Anti-riot police being deployed at Nakivubo

Anti-riot police being deployed at Nakivubo Park yard market during the eviction on Monday. PHOTO BY COLLEB MUGUME  

By Karoli Ssemogerere

This weekend the Nakivubo Stadium “Park Yard” was demolished to create way for the 1000th building of its kind, a commercial development, whose sole objective is to create as many shops and stalls as are humanly possible. If you want to contest the skill of our artisans you have to go to Kyaggwe Road where the street pavement recently collapsed either on account of road traffic or something else. When you scrutinise these new shops, they are about the size of an English sitting room window that grace most homes in the United Kingdom owned by rich or poor.
Soon the former yard, will have an in-game population that violates international safety guidelines all in the interest of the mandarins and tumbus. The mandarins often have the key, access to power and privilege to make the unusual happen. Why an eviction without a court order is carried out by police whose constitutional mandate is to protect life and property hazards anyone’s guess. Since when did the “trustees” of the stadium acquire powers to dispose of the property entrusted to them like an ordinary business? What assets has Nakivubo acquired since 1949? But the powers of the mandarins work in such a way that even courts of law a last resort are left as bystanders.
The Mr Tumbus are the agents of the mandarins. Their job is apply sweat, apply for the bank loans some of which are backed by securities pledged by the mandarins. When Sudhir Ruparelia’s borrowers (a few of them) developed bullhorns and refused to honour their obligations, he forgot that the tumbus had protectors of last resort. A few banks before him had learnt the hard way when they were forced to vomit securities they were keeping in their safes to keep the mandarins at bay.
At certain levels of liquidity every businessman needs a prince whose security is enough to obliterate 100 titles reducing costs chargeable in mortgage registration costs.
These mandarins are there to protect awardees of tenders keeping bureaucrats in check by promises to ruin their careers. Unless a Tumbu exceeds his mandate, gets interested in politics, he or she is safe. He or she lives a life of glamour and a semi-official status. In Kenya not so much, the mandarins and tumbus never mix. The mandarins rule the city centre and the tumbus rule the suburbs as outlets for goods and services needed by the former.
For now the Park Yard shopkeepers are gone, they will be replaced by another class of thirsty urban dwellers. In a few months, a few troublesome ones will complain about exorbitant rent forgetting they in effect have two landlords.
The speed at which these buildings sprout leaves room for lots of errors. What passes for parking are often cavernous tunnels where cars bump into columns and scratch other cars in a struggle to meet parking mandates.
For the less fortunate like those in Usafi whose price tag increased from four billion to billions more in three years, the current rains only compound their misery. It’s a gory sightseeing rain pouring over people who are coming into the market. But Usafi is safe because it came into the picture using the right procedure, the mandarins gave it protection.
It has been the law of the land that market places are public, that’s the position of the Markets Act. The Kabaka of Buganda has an exemption to run his own markets but he is not an individual. So the conflict between markets and malls is likely to continue.
Owino which by now would be a transitional village with covered pavements remains what it is with various claimants to its title, which should be vested in the local government with jurisdiction over it. It is the little people who sustain the base of the economy and right now the rich are crushing them into the ground.
Mr Ssemogerere is an Attorney-at-Law and an Advocate.