Landlords angry after govt reallocates Tororo market stalls

Officials from ministry of Local Government and State House conducting the verification and reallocation of stalls and lockups at Tororo central Market in Tororo District on June 18, 2024. PHOTO/JOSEPH OMOLLO

What you need to know:

  • Authorities say the landlords sub-rented their spaces but refused to clear rent.
  • Authorities said the municipal council had long begged landlords to clear their arrears with their pleas falling on deaf ears.

The Ministry of Local Government in collaboration with the state house has started re-allocating lockups and stalls in the new Tororo Central Market.

The exercise that got underway on Tuesday has left landlords in tears after they surrendered powers of ownership of the said spaces in light of outstanding rental arrears.

State House official Arthur Mukasa said the reallocation is part of a bid “to help Tororo Municipal Council to recover over Shs1 billion rent arrears accumulated over years.”

On Tuesday, some landlords pleaded before government officials seeking pardon as they visibly looked vulnerable in the face of their former ‘tenants.’

“Under the new arrangement, sitting tenants will be required to offset outstanding rent arrears before they are served with allocation forms as a prerequisite to own space,” Mukasa explained.

He revealed that 90 per cent of the stalls and lock-ups had previously been allocated to rich people, who were sub-renting and exorbitantly charging the poor.

The so-called landlords have been charging people Shs200,000-300,000 monthly but haven’t remitted anything to the Tororo Municipal Council, according to Mukasa.

''We have started receiving cases of the so-called landlords rushing to the bank to clear their outstanding rent arrears but we are asking what they have been waiting for and yet we are working on a directive from the president,'' he added.

At least 1,184 stall and lock up spaces that had been owned by the rich tenants are to be re-allocated to the poor vendors who will meet requirements like a national Identity card and ability to pay fee set by the government.

Landlords opposed to the move resisted eviction, threatening officials with witchcraft.

74-year-old Samson Opio who owned 1009 lock-up decried what he termed as “state robbery” after his space was reallocated to his former tenan.

He said some of them had the ability to pay the rent but they were relying on the court judgment consent where all those who had spaces in the old market were exempted from paying rent for 15 years.

''This is a broad day robbery which is not acceptable. At my age, where do you want me to go yet this is almost my pension. We shall take the government to court,'' he said. 

Charles Odoi, another landlord who has accumulated rent arrears of Shs2.6 million appealed to government to pardon them.

''We accept to have erred, but we request the government to pardon us and give us a timeline to clear our arrears,'' he told Monitor on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, market master Peter Okaka said the municipal council had long begged landlords to clear their arrears with their pleas falling on deaf ears.

According to him, most vendors have outstanding rental arrears of 6 to 18 months.

''You can imagine these so-called landlords have zero rent arrears from the vendors they sub-rented but have never bothered to even pay to council. How then do you want the council to help them?'' the market master emphasized. 

Tororo central market has a 1,500 vendor-capacity.