Traders in Kampala are appealing to President Museveni to assent to the Landlord and Tenants Bill.
On Tuesday several traders operating in arcades around Kampala city centre under the auspices of Kampala Arcade Traders Association (KATA), met at JBK Hotel to discuss challenges they face while conducting their businesses.
The traders accused their landlords of ‘exploiting them’ by increasing rent abnormally, double allocation of shops, eviction of tenants on short notice and demanding payments in foreign currencies.
The traders urgently want the Bill to be signed into law so as to ‘’protect them from exploitation by the landlords’’. They also wondered if the President’s delay to assent to the Bill is as a result of favouring the landlords who were opposed to most provisions in the Bill.
The Bill which was unanimously passed by Parliament last month generated a lot of debate putting tenants and Landlords on opposite sides. Land Lords opposed several provisions key among them is one that bars them from asking for rent in foreign currency.
The Bill makes it mandatory for all payments of rent to be transacted in local currency a provision that came as a relief for several traders in Kampala who have stood a test of paying their monthly rent United States Dollars.
Tom Katongole, a dealer in phones and phone accessories at Cares Corner says that Landlords currently exercise a lot of power over the tenants.
He said that landlords tend to rent out and evict traders at any time and also penalize them for failure to make payments on time.
“Land lords are very unfair to us not considering what we also go through as traders on the other side with Uganda Revenue Authority (URA) as we ship in our merchandise. All they care about is the rent and when you don’t pay on time, you are fined about Shs500,000,” he said.
In his remarks, Geoffrey Katongole, the KATA chairperson promised to continue advocating for the rights of the traders/tenants. He, however, cautioned his colleagues against demonstrating as a way of expressing themselves.
Katongole promised the traders that they are write a petition and present it to the Speaker of Parliament next week over the matter.
“As per the Speaker’s advice, we are going to write a petition to Parliament highlighting the challenges we are facing as traders and then parliament will take on from there,” he said.