Traders in Kyenshama Trading Centre in Kashari North Constituency have requested government to think about reopening of cattle markets.
Kyenshama cattle market, which previously operated every Friday, was officially closed on March 20 this year as one of several measures aimed at stopping the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Kyenshama is one of the biggest animal markets in western Uganda and receives about 300 heads of cattle and 400 goats and sheep from the neighbouring districts of Kazo, Mbarara, Kiruhura and Buhweju weekly.
According to Deus Ndyanabo, LC I Chairperson Kyenshama trading centre, the market has in the past provided job opportunities to mostly youths in the cattle chain in Kashari constituency.
Many of these, he says, have been rendered unemployed following the shutdown of the market.
“All the food vendors in the market, plus the boys who were aiding in loading and offloading of cattle have no other means of survival,” says Ndyanabo
He says the closure of cattle markets also hampered farmers from selling their farm products.
“When you took your goat or cow to the market, you would be assured of getting some money to solve issues on your farm. But now it’s hard to sell any farm animal since all markets were closed,” Ndyanabo explains, adding that, as a result, the living conditions for people in Kyenshama have since deteriorated.
He asked residents to remain patient as government looks into the matter.
“Traders should remain patient because we see that some other markets were re-opened, for instance, those dealing in food stuffs operating normally. We hope that government can re-open cattle markets as well and put in place standard operating procedures for us to sell our animals to get money to look after our families,” Ndyanabo said.
Fridah Kajungu, a single mother of five who has operated a local hotel in Kyenshama trading centre for over eight years, could not hide her pain over the drastic drop in customers for her food ever since COVID-19 struck.
Kajungu reveals that she has been facing issues with her landlord since March 2020 when the market was closed.
“It was easier to get his rent when the market was open. Now that Kyenshama was closed I have nowhere to get his money,” she explained.
Due to the reduced demand for food, Kajungu says that she was forced to lower the price of a plate of food from Shs 3000 to 1000 each.
In addition, the beleaguered Kajungu is struggling to pay a one million shillings loan she took from Rwanyamahembe SACCO to kick-start her business.
“I had already cleared some of it, but I still owe the SACCO about five hundred shillings,” she said.
She appealed to the government to give financial support to traders recovering from the slump in business due to COVID-19.
Kansiime Nice, another trader dealing in retail and merchandise, told theCooperator that her sales have fallen dramatically since the COVID-19 restrictions were imposed.
To illustrate, she points to a stack of unsold ropes, an item that flew off the shelves when Kyenshama cattle market was operational.
“These ropes were being bought by cattle dealers in this market; to whom can I sell them now that the cattle business is no more?” she asked.
The mother of two says she is struggling to cater for her two children, having used up all her savings.