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Gulu City Traders Issue Ultimatum To Umeme

GULU – Gulu Market vendors have issued a two weeks ultimatum to electricity distribution company, Umeme: Stop the power outages or brace for street protests.

Complaints have been piling but the latest power outage that lasted three weeks triggered an outpouring of anger from mainly members of Gulu Main Market Vendors SACCO.

On April 20, at least 400 residents of Gulu City petitioned Umeme to stop the power outages.

The petition was handed over to Gulu Resident City Commissioner, Nsubuga Bwehayo and Doreen Ogenga, the area Umeme manager. Aswa River Region Police Commander, the District Police Commander and the 4th division army barracks commander got copies.

The petitioners are demanding constant and adequate power supply lest they pour onto streets in protests in two weeks.

Patrick Omaya, the Chairman Gulu Main Market Vendors SACCO, said constant power outages, have cost them clients. He said some business can’t do without power, such as salons, milk coolers, and tailors.

“And there are some sections of the market such as the basement that need constant power. We have tried with  Gulu city, vendors clear all their bills and Umeme cuts power claiming council has not cleared the bills,” he said.

Joyce Luyom, the vice chairperson of Gulu Main Market SACCO, said power outages are a big nightmare.

“If you go to the basement during day or night you can’t carry out any meaningful transaction. And if a criminal decides to enter that place, they can kill without their victim recognizing them,” Luyom said.

Since 2016, a year after the main market was commissioned, vendors have been complaining about poor lighting during day time. In the same year, vendors called for the installation of solar panels to address the issue of power outages.

The poor lighting in the basement forced vendors with stalls there to move out and display their goods in the market compound.

This has also drawn complaints from other vendors who claim they are being undercut by colleagues selling merchandise in the compound.

Margaret Auma, who sells second hand clothes in the basement, said when there is no power, she gets no more than two clients a day.

“Constant power blackout in the market forces me to carry my goods to the compound twice daily, which is very tiring,” Auma said, adding “that is the only way I can at least get some money.

Susan Adong, a tailor, said when there is no power, she is completely out of business. 

“The machine I use to design patterns on my clients’ clothes cannot work without power,” Adong said. 

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