Until last month, Usafi Market was a deserted facility, with low trading activities taking place. Since its purchase by Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA) as a public facility in 2015, majority of traders have been running away, citing low customer turn-up.
Though KCCA created a public taxi park at the market to boost business, taxi drivers refused to relocate there and chose to operate on city streets. KCCA had envisaged that Usafi traders would have passengers flocking the park as their potential clients.
The park would also accommodate taxis plying routes such as Entebbe, Munyonyo, Ggaba and Lukuli, among others.
But the recent relocation of taxis plying Entebbe Road, among others from the Old Taxi Park and other streets, has since breathed new life into the businesses of Usafi.
When Daily Monitor visited the market on Wednesday, all stalls which had been deserted were occupied with other traders operating in the open spaces. Traders said unlike in the past, business is picking up.
“Majority of people now pass through this market to go and board taxis in the park and these are the same people who buy our merchandise. There is a lot of business taking place because customers are now coming in big numbers. We thank government for relocating taxis to this park,” Ms Stella Nangozi, a food vendor, said.
She noted that previously, she used to make sales of Shs10,000 to Shs15,000 per day but currently, she makes at least Shs50,000 per day.
The secretary of Usafi market, Mr Peter Kivumbi, said since taxis were relocated to the park, there has been an overwhelming demand of working space in the market.
“There is great life in the market and traders are very happy because their daily sales have tripled. We hope that if the situation continues as it is, then Usafi will be one of the busiest market facilities in the city,” Mr Kivumbi said.
However, Mr Kivumbi noted that both the market and taxi park lack a lighting system.
KCCA’s directorates of gender, and revenue indicates that lockups in Usafi vary in rental fees according to their size. For instance, there are lockups for Shs360,000, Shs288,000, Shs188,000, Shs90,000 and Sh13,000 per month while stalls go for only Shs65,000 per month.
KCCA bought Usafi market in 2015 to accommodate vendors who had been chased from Kampala streets. But it has since had controversies.
For instance, a Statutory Internal Audit report for the second quarter of the Financial Year 2017/2018 punched holes in KCCA’s management of Usafi market, calling for urgent intervention to avoid loss of revenue.
According to the report, although all Usafi market property reverted to KCCA upon purchase of the facility, there are still inconsistences in the numbers of lockup shops, stalls and tenants.
The report also indicated that there was absence of both allocation letters and tenancy agreement, non-payment of monthly rent by several tenants, absence of a market master, subletting without approval and absence of some working tools for staff in the facility.
It also indicated that the allocation committee that was appointed by the director of gender was slow in carrying out the mandate entrusted to it.
The report further stated that some unscrupulous people were tarnishing KCCA’s image by charging exorbitant rental fees through sub-leases and denying the genuine traders the desired working space.
Section 29(1) of the KCCA Market Ordinance, 2006, stipulates that a person to whom a pitch, stall or shop has been allocated to within a market shall not without permission of council, sublet that pitch, stall or shop.