KCCA bows to traders’ pressure, evicts vendors

Many vendors flock the Kampala central business district and set up shop on walkways, cutting off business from shop owners, who now want them off. FILE PHOTO

What you need to know:

July 10: KCCA Executive Director Jennifer Musisi orders street vendors to vacate, saying they had become a nuisance in the city.
July 14: Lord Mayor Erias Lukwago opposes the directive, saying the Authority has not yet identified an alternative place to relocate them to.
August 10: Traders, through Kacita, give KCCA up to the end of August to remove vendors, lest they also put their merchandise onto the streets.
August 17: President Museveni issues directive to KCCA to remove all vendors from the streets.
August31: KCCA promises to remove vendors by September 5.

Kampala Capital City Authority [KCCA] has given street vendors a four-day ultimatum to vacate city streets or risk being arrested. KCCA Executive Director Ms Jennifer Musisi said the Authority had identified over 8,000 spaces in 69 public and private city markets where the vendors can sell their merchandise.

According to city authorities, at least 8,500 street vendors are estimated to be operating in the city’s central business district. Most of them operate on pavements, road reserves and outside shopping centres.

“Vendors have up to Monday to vacate city streets, and we have to be careful not to mix politics with the issues of governance and trade order. We cannot continue with an illegality simply because it has stayed for so long,” Ms Musisi told journalists in Kampala on Wednesday.

She said that the planned eviction of vendors was part of a wider plan to ensure trade order in the city, in accordance with the Trade Order Ordinance, 2006.

“We are now ending the era of lawlessness and impunity. Failure of that, KCCA will have to move in to arrest adamant vendors and prosecute them,” She said. Vendors usually swell during festive seasons and campaign periods, frustrating legal business operations and increasing street disorder.

Affected are down streets including Market, Dastur, Luwum and Kiyembe Lane as well as part of Ben-Kiwanuka. Other areas include; the downtown Kikuubo shopping hub and taxi parks.
The development also shows that KCCA is succumbing to pressure from city traders following numerous threats that they will pour their merchandise onto the streets, like the vendors, if KCCA does not evict the latter.

Traders under their umbrella body, Kampala City Traders Association (Kacita), had given the city authorities up to August 31 to relocate the vendors, but after a meeting with city authorities, security and other stakeholders on Wednesday, it was unanimously agreed that the vendors leave by next Monday.

“Vendors have no excuse to keep on city streets when several city markets are vacant. We have identified 8,000 vacant places (stalls) in different city markets where they can operate from. Working on streets and walkways is illegal and punishable,” Ms Musisi insisted.

Traders argue that vendors sell similar merchandise outside their shops and in the process deny them clients because they sell their products cheaply since they pay little or no taxes.

“We cannot continue to operate from inside shops when vendors are freely trading from the streets. By next Monday, if nothing is done, we shall close shops and join them on the streets,” Mr Everest Kayondo, the chairman Kacita, said yesterday.

Museveni backs Musisi
In July, Ms Musisi issued a public notice banning vendors from operating on pavements and road reserves in the city. However, Mr Lukwago said that the Authority had not yet taken a decision to evict the vendors since there were no alternative places to relocate them. Efforts to speak to Mr Lukwago yesterday were futile as he could not answer repeated calls from this newspaper.

President Museveni has since supported Ms Musisi’s position. “For Lukwago to insist that people must stay on the streets is wrong and we shall fight this. If people sell on the streets, what will the shopkeepers do? The majority of the vendors have stalls but opt to stay on the streets,” Mr Museveni said.