Traders flee shops even as landlords waive rent arrears

Wednesday July 8 2020

Traders scramble to enter a shopping

Traders scramble to enter a shopping arcade to get out their merchandise on Nasser Road in Kampala on June 26. FILE PHOTO 

By TONNY ABET

Even though more landlords are pardoning tenants over rent arrears that accumulated during the three months of lockdown, traders are worried over making payments for the subsequent months.

A number of traders are fleeing malls that have reopened, with some said to be taking their stock home as they wait for the situation to normalise.

Mr Geoffrey Kauma, one of the traders who rents at Aponye City mall, told Daily Monitor yesterday that although their engagement with the landlord yielded a pardon over rent arrears, the uncertainties ahead are huge.

“Business is down as you see, buyers are very few. Before the lockdown period, most of our customers were coming in the evening hours, around 5pm but we are now forced to close shop at 4pm because of curfew,” Mr Kauma said.

“We had wanted the landlord to at least write off rent arrears for two months of April and May but he only did it for one month,” he added.

Mr Kauma, who sells generators, says the system they had set up to make sales in different communities has been disrupted because of difficulties such as high transport fares.

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“Government should waive tax for at least one year and should also consider the impact of curfew on business,” he said.
Although some traders say some of their colleagues had left over failure to manage rent, the management told this newspaper that none of the traders had left.

Mr Isaac Kasule, another tenant at Segawa Market, a shopping mall in Kampala where the landlord, Mr Haruna Sentongo, waived rent arrears for the past three months, says his only hope is God to help him break through.

Mr Sentongo is also giving up to three rent-free months to new tenants.

Mr Kasule said: “I am a man who believes in God. I am going to operate and work hard to see that I break through.”
“I thank Mr Haruna Sentongo for writing off my arrears and I request other landlords to do the same. He is someone who listens and understands. He has allowed me to start paying from this month, July. I was in panic and I was worried about what I will do to clear the rent,” Mr Kasule added.

He, however, asked for waiving of interest charges on loans that traders and landlords acquired from banks.

Ms Faith Madina Katamba, another trader, who had been selling UBL car batteries at the mall for the last four years, yesterday came to meet the landlord with the intention of taking the remaining stock home.

“I thank God and I appreciate my boss for waiving the arrears of the last three months. My mother is in Rubaga hospital battling a spinal cord problem,” she said, adding that the disruption of business by lockdown worsened her problems.

Reopening arcades
Still closed. Arcades such as Park View Shopping Centre that was supposed to reopen under a condition the government termed ‘‘for study purposes,’’ is still closed.
According to a statement posted by Kampala City Traders Association on their social media page yesterday, the government is not responding to the plea as regards reopening of arcades.
“Dear members, it’s very sad that yesterday, the cabinet didn’t not have time to sort out our item for opening the Arcades,” they wrote in the post.
tabet@ug.nationmedia.com

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