President Museveni has rejected the giveaway of St Balikuddembe (Owino) Market to a private investor, saying the facility is currently being managed by local traders.
The managing director of Al-Ameri Intel Company East Africa, Dr Abdulmajeed Quasem Othman, had written to the President on May 25, 2021, inviting him to the ground-breaking ceremony of the redevelopment of the facility.
However, the senior presidential adviser on military affairs, Lt Gen Proscovia Nalweyiso, wrote to Dr Abdulmajeed on June 29, 2021, informing him that his request had been rejected.
Gen Nalweyiso also stated that the President met with the Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA) executive director, Ms Dorothy Kisaka, and senior presidential adviser on economic affairs, Ms Jane Barekye, at State House and clarified that the market had been given to local traders.
“This letter, therefore, serves to inform you that the ground-breaking ceremony cannot take place,” Lt Gen Nalweyiso wrote.
She also noted that Mr Museveni advised the investor to buy land, build a market and rent it out to the people if he was interested in the market business.
Al-Ameri Intel Company East Africa had reportedly been contracted by St Balikuddembe Market Stalls, Space and Lock-ups Owners Association (SSLOA), a traders’ body, to whom the market land was leased on February 3, 2010.
However, SSLOA has since been kicked out of the management of the market following a presidential directive to have all city markets that had been leased to traders returned to the government through KCCA.
Ms Suzan Kushaba, the market interim chairperson, told this newspaper yesterday that they are still waiting for the government to officially takeover the facility.
“We will not allow any company to come and disturb traders in the name of redeveloping the market because there is a presidential directive which still stands to date. I would like to assure traders to remain calm as the government handles the matter,” she said.
President Museveni in 2019 instituted a committee led by the First Deputy Prime Minister, Gen Moses Ali, to study the status of public and private markets in the city to empower vendors and report their findings to Cabinet.
On November 4, 2019, the committee submitted a report to Cabinet.
Committee members, who attended a Cabinet meeting, told Daily Monitor that they were directed to reconcile the warring factions in the city markets to facilitate its development for the benefit of all.
They said in the alternative, the Cabinet proposed compulsory takeover of the market by the government to develop and manage it in case reconciliation failed.
Earmarked for sale
Other city markets, which have been earmarked for government takeover, are Nakaserio and Kisekka.
Asked how far the takeover plan has reached, KCCA’s deputy executive director, Mr David Luyimbazi, said the Ministry of Lands is working on a statutory instrument of compulsory acquisition of land and that once it’s done, then the government will take over.
“The instrument will guide us as KCCA on how to proceed with the takeover and that’s what we are still waiting for. The former associations to whom the land had been leased have to be compensated first and when the statutory instrument is ready, the government will then start processing the funds for compensation,” Mr Luyimbazi said.
The facility, which covers about 8.5 acres of land, was constructed in 1971 at Nakivubo. Initially, Owino market was managed by the defunct Kampala City Council (KCC) until May 31, 1995 when vendors took over management. On October 31, 2002, KCC dissolved the vendors’ leadership and handed over the market to city businessman Hassan Basajjabalaba under his Victoria International Company which managed the market from November 2002 to 2006.
On January 19, 2009, President Museveni ordered that the land on which the market sits be leased to the vendors.