Over 300 businesses face closure at Mak

Makerere University VC Prof Barnabas Nawangwe. PHOTO/FILE

What you need to know:

  • The eviction notice followed a directive to terminate all business activities that are not licensed.

Business owners who have been operating at Makerere University for the last 30 years are grieving after the university management directed them to vacate the premises with immediate effect.

The affected businesses include restaurants, canteens, photocopying, stationery, bars, vendors, salons, telephone booths and washing bays, some of which have been operating illegally, according to some sources.

The eviction notice that Monitor has seen indicates that all business owners were supposed to vacant the university premises by July 1.

“All vendors and business owners are required to cease operating any business and to relocate from the university effective Just 1,’’ the letter written by Prof Henry Alinaitwe on behalf of the Deputy Vice Chancellor  Finance and Administration reads in part.

“This letter serves to warn all those who will be found operating their businesses that all their materials will be confiscated without any further warning. They will be charged with trespassing,” it adds.

The eviction notice followed a directive from the University Council that called for termination of all business activities at the university, except for those contracted by management to provide catering services to students.

The souvenir shop under the Makerere University Endowment Fund is also spared.

However, when we visited the university yesterday, business owners were still working.
 “You cannot come out of the blue and tell us to vacate without giving us time to look for where we are going. We are waiting for them to come and evict us by force,” Mr Jackson Tayebwa, who operates a printery, said.

According to Mr Tayebwa, the university served the eviction notice on July 4, three days after July 1 when they were expected to leave.

Mr Samuel Lugema, who operates a salon at Mitchel Hall, said his 20-year-old business will come to an end.

“I have been cutting the hair of students for the last 20 years. Some students paid money for the whole semester. If we are evicted, who is going to compensate them?” Mr Lugema said.

The deputy chairperson of Makerere Business Owners Association, Mr Julius Asiimwe, said they have written to the university management for negotiations.

“We have been told that the Vice Chancellor and his Deputy are out of the country that is why we have not been evicted yet. We await their return and we see what we can do because people’s livelihood are at stake,” Mr Asiimwe said. 

There are more than 34,000 students, over 3,000 staff, excluding visitors who go to conduct various businesses at the university.

Sources close to the university management and council told this newspaper that most of the businesses are owned by some staff members.

“90 percent of businesses operating at the university are illegal. Some are owned by staff. When the management tried to evict them, there was war waged on the top management. But the time is up for them,” the source said.

According to the source, the university earns close to Shs4b annually from rent as non-tax revenue. 

This is not the first time the university is evicting people. In 2013, the university evicted kiosks that were operating on the roadside of the university.  

The university secretary, Mr Yusuf Kiranda, said the management was sitting today to discuss the plight of the businesses. 

Why the move

The chairperson of the University Council, Ms Lorna Magara, said they are trying to streamline businesses operating within the university.  “

Some businesses have contracts with the university management while others do not. We are saying let all of them move out and then those with legal contracts will be allowed back as they present their documents to the management,’’ Ms Magara said. 

“Our students are being robbed of their property and we cannot trace anyone because our gates are open to all.”