Street vendors in Moroto municipality have continued to do business in the streets despite the elapse of the ultimatum given to them to leave and join the central market.
The municipal council authorities had given the street vendors a two weeks’ ultimatum to leave the streets and take up designated stalls existing in the market. When our reporter visited some of the streets along Campswahili in south Division, the vendors were conducting their business normally without any disturbance
Since the market started operating in April 2022, more than 1000 stalls have been abandoned after traders rejected them on grounds that their customers cannot easily access them. The market is supposed to accommodate about 1500 vendors, but currently it only has about 500.
Betty Akunyo, one of the street vendors says they prefer selling from the streets because the spaces allocated for them in the market do not favor their business.
She says they requested the vendor’s chairperson to re-organize the vendors sitting arrangement in the market so that fruit dealers are allocated in an open space where customers can easily access them but all in vain.
Rose Achom, another street vendor said they are not ready to leave the street because they sell and get more profits compared to inside the market where business is limited.
‘’For us here we can sell from morning up to sunset and customers are able to access us. But inside the market they close at 7:00 pm and we cannot manage that kind of arrangement,” adds Achom.
Achom suggested that they pay rental fees for the stalls in the market and use them as stores for commodities as they continue to sell in the streets.
Salim Wambede, the chairperson of the vendors, says there is no need for the municipal council to evict the street vendors when they have failed to address the challenges affecting traders in the market.
Wambede said, the market is currently grappling with challenges of water crisis, no electricity and poor garbage management that has affected their business. ‘’How can you force the street vendors to occupy the market and yet you are failing to manage the few who are already in the market,” wondered Wambede.
He urged the municipal authorities to first address the crisis at the market before thinking of adding more vendors.
Vicent Okurut, the Town clerk noted that the exercise to evict the street vendors is being frustrated by the poor service delivery at the market facility.
Okurut observed that the challenges have left many unoccupied spaces in the market, adding that they are trying their best to make sure that the market becomes a better place for the vendors.
He said although there is money which is being collected from the market, the municipal authorities have not been able to spend it because of the government procedures. He vowed to resolve the issues affecting business at the main market as soon as possible so that they can proceed with their action to evict the street vendors.
However, Ismail Mohammed, the mayor for Moroto municipality further made it clear that the street vendors had been given only two weeks to leave the streets and occupy the market. He added that they would not allow anyone to run business along the streets yet the government has invested money to establish for them the market facility.
Mohammed acknowledged that although the market is faced by a crisis in service delivery, the vendors should take up their stalls as they work around the clock to address the matter.
‘’We are giving those vendors the last chance of only two weeks to leave the streets. Failure to comply with the directives, we shall deal with them accordingly,” added Mohammed.
He said there is no need to let vendors sell on streets when they have designated markets where they can sell their goods. Mohammed blamed the street vendors for abandoning the market and now contributing to congestion on the streets that has exposed people to accidents.
Moroto central market was constructed under the government’s markets and agriculture trade improvement program (MATIP). The market started operating in march 2022.
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