Even as Wandegeya and Usafi markets have unoccupied stalls due to the unavailability of customers, the government has said it is finalising plans to have street vendors operate in specific markets.
Late last year, the Government resolved that vendors should be evicted from Kampala streets and relocate to the gazetted markets like Usafi Market, arguing that they disadvantage licensed traders who pay rent and taxes.
“We want buyers to look for sellers in one place not the other way round where sellers look for buyers,” the State Minister for Kampala, Benny Namugwanya, told the media in Kampala, adding: “We want vendors to sell their goods in an organised way.”
The minister’s statement comes after an incident where a woman who was being pursued by KCCA law enforcement officers drowned in the Nakivubo sewerage channel last week. KCCA does not allow street vendors, most of them women and the youth to do business on Kampala streets during day.
In May this year, after spending a day with female vendors on the streets of Kampala, trade minister Amelia Kyambadde announced plans to register and help them form an association so they can improve their working conditions.
And vendors this reporter talked to say they don’t have enough capital to operate in gazetted markets thus opting do hawking business on Kampala streets. They add that they target clients who don’t have time to visit markets or shops.
“Some people don’t have time to enter shops or go to the markets and we are here to help them,” says Paul Kazibwe who operates along Entebbe Road, one of the busiest in Kampala.
“For me I sell bogoya (yellow bananas) and there is no shop here selling them. So why should KCCA chase me,” complains Hadija Nalumansi, who vends her goods on Nkrumah Road.
Kampala City Traders Association (Kacita) spokesperson, Issa Sekitto has always blamed government and KCCA for allowing vendors to operate on the streets.
“Traders pay licences to operate. We have written to all security agencies and relevant government authorities to have vendors removed from the streets but without success,” said Sekitto says.
Some of the vendors on Kampala’s streets come from neighbouring districts like Wakiso, Mpigi and Mukono which have high numbers of unemployed youth and women. They hawk items including foodstuffs, jewelry, footwear and clothing, among others, selling them at relatively cheap prices.