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Gulu City authorities order for fresh allocation of lockup shops at Gulu main market

Gulu City Authorities with vendors in a recent meeting. (Photo by Simon Wokorach)

GULU – Gulu City authorities have ordered for fresh allocation of lockup shops, stalls and pitches at Gulu Main Market to vendors to restore sanity in the market.

The Council resolution was based on the report by an Adoc committee that was instituted to investigate the challenges in the market related to ownership, taxation and revenue collection in the market.

The committee which is composed of 5 members and chaired by the Woman Councillor IV for Agwee/Queens Parish Gifter Aber for Laroo-Pece division was established in November,2021.

The investigation that was concluded by the end of December, 2021 uncovered several irregularities leading to the resolution to reallocate the lockup shops, stalls and pitches.

The reports indicate that of 515 lockups shops, 97% of them were rented out to vendors between Shs 150,000 to Shs 600,000 depending on their positions.

Technocrats, political leaders and clerics whose identities were withheld from the report were implicated in fraudulent acquisition of the shops from the then Gulu Municipal Developers Association.

In 2015, a group of 85 developers signed the tenancy agreement with the council for a joint ownership of the market but the committee found out that their number has exceeded 240 members.

The tenancy agreement gave the developers 6 years of ownership of the shops which has expired and Council also resolved to terminate their contract with the developers in order to take full control and ownership of the market.

Meanwhile, some of the individuals implicated in the scandals were found in possession of between 5 to 10 lockup shops arising from fraudulent acquisition which they sublet to vendors.

The Gulu City Mayor, Alfred Okwonga told theCooperator in a recent interview that the Council resolved to carry out fresh re-allocation of the lockup shops, and stalls in the next two weeks.

Whereas the Council moves towards reallocation, the report by the adoc committee also exposed a variation of the revenue collected which caused financial losses to the Council in the last two years.

With a projection of more than billions of shillings in annual revenue from the market, the Council only realized Shs106.8 million in 2021 creating a shortfall of the revenue collected in the year.

The revenue performance in the market has increased according to the quarterly performance reports, as Council collected Shs426 million from the market between July and September 2021 with the introduction of the Integrated Revenue Administration System (IRAS).

The Chairman Gulu main market vendors association, Patrick Omaya is hopeful that the market will realize more than a billion shillings from revenue collection with the new finance system which he says, will eliminate corruption in the City and improve on public accountability.

He also revealed that the re-allocation of lock-up shops, stalls and pitches in the market will kick off with fresh registration of the vendors in the next two weeks for verification.

“There was manipulation at the time of allocation that smuggled in more people, most of whom were technocrats,” Omaya told theCooperator in an interview.

The tenancy agreement gave the developers 6 years of ownership of the shops but most of them according to the market authorities have rented out their shops to the vendors.

The Principal Auditor, Gulu City Council however noted that the clause in the tenancy agreement does not give power to the developers to transfer their interest which he says has not been followed.

“The party agreed not to transfer his or interest to a third party without the approval of the Council, the transfer can only be granted whenever there is any eventuality or demise but this is contrary to what we see in the market,” Oyoo said.

Gulu Main Market was constructed at the cost of Shs 29 billion under the Market Agricultural Trade Improvement Project (MATIP) and commissioned by President Museveni in 2016 with the expected capacity to accommodate over 4,000 vendors.

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