KAMPALA. All street vendors in Kampala have up to only two months to vacate the streets so as to decongest the city, Kampala Affairs minister Beti Olive Kamya has said.
Ms Kamya told a press conference at the government’s Media Centre on Friday that the vendors have refused to vacate Kampala streets despite efforts by the Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA) to build markets for them.
“As city leaders, we are concerned about the mess in the city, especially the street vendors. I will soon unveil a committee to investigate the wrangles in the city markets because most of street vendors say that they can’t work from there. In two months’ time, we shall have got a report, which will definitely guide us on how to evict these vendors and how we could restore sanity on Kampala streets. In two months’ time, we shall not allow any street vendor on the streets anymore,” the minister said.
Ms Kamya said she had received petitions from more than 30 markets in the city and decried the confusion there, citing Wandegeya and Usafi markets, which have been at the centre of scuffles between KCCA and the vendors, with the latter accusing the former of introducing heavy taxes.
She, however, blamed the influx of street vendors in the city on some Kampala politicians, whom she said back vendors on operating from the city streets.
“We understand these vendors need to be helped out but politicians have always betrayed us by ordering vendors back to the streets. However, after the report is completed, we shall map out a plan to accommodate the vendors elsewhere but not on the streets,” she said
Ms Kamya revealed that the revenue collection from city traders has fallen because traders have since vowed not to pay taxes, arguing that street vendors, who don’t pay any tax, have hijacked all their clients. She didn’t, however, explain how much has been defaulted by the traders.
Asked about president Museveni’s permission to the vendors during his presidential campaigns to operate from the city streets without interference, Ms Kamya said the president only ordered it during the election period but didn’t give a written letter to allow them on the streets.
On the status of leadership at city hall, Ms Kamya painted a bright picture, saying the leaders are now working together to ensure development prevails in the city.
“I would like to thank Lord Mayor [Erias] Lukwago for always turning up whenever we call him for meetings. This is a good gesture for development because as politicians, we can disagree on political ideologies but we should be able to embrace developmental programmes despite our political differences,” she said.
Nonetheless, there remains animosity between Ms Kamya and Mr Lukwago over management of Kampala city. Whereas the minister says the powers at city hall ought to be streamlined, Mr Lukwago accuses her of plotting to usurp his power as the lord mayor by officiating at city functions, which is supposed to be done by the lord mayor.
The minister’s ultimatum comes barely one week after Kampala Central Division mayor Charles Musoke Sserunjogi authorized vendors to operate from the old and new taxi parks.
In a letter dated September 22, Mr Sserunjogi stated the vendors ought to work along with KCCA law enforcement officers and that they should be registered in both parks and submit a report to his office about the exercise.
“…as you are all aware, we are trying to bring back trade order in the city, and take off vendors from the city streets, as we help the city dwellers to enable them achieve vision 2040. In a bid to remove vendors from the streets, permission is given to you to operate inside the new and old taxi parks,” the letter reads in part.
But KCCA spokesperson Peter Kaujju said all street vendors should go to Wandegeya and Usafi markets, adding that working in ungazzetted areas is illegal.
But Mr Sserunjogi said the authority should identify particular roads, where street vendors could be allowed to ply their businesses from 4 to 5pm and also introduce evening markets.