LIRA – Business in the new Lira Main Market is limping and troubled, six years after the market was officially opened in 2015.
Business in the market has edged down and traders have refused to pay taxes to the City Council Authority. Power has also been switched off over an unpaid bill of Shs 36 million piled up over the last three months.
The Shs 28 billion Lira main market, managed by Lira City Authority, was officially opened in February 2015.
It was built under the Markets and Agricultural Trade Improvement Programme Project 1 (MATIP-1).
But the over 600 market traders have stopped paying utilities and rent – denying Lira City Authority about Shs 27 million in monthly revenue, theCooperator has has learnt.
Interviewed for this story, some traders said the disconnection of power has greatly affected their businesses.
Babra Awio, a food vendor, said her business has been crippled by the lack of water and power in the market. She said she opens for business late and closes by 4:30pm due to lack of power.
“We are just making huge losses. I used to make between Shs 50, 000 to Shs 80, 000 in profit on a daily basis. But now I take home less than Shs 10,000 due to lack of power in the market. Sometimes, I go home empty handed,” she said in a telephone interview on May 26.
Eddy Olara, a dealer in second hand shoes, is contemplating relocating his business.
Emmanuel Okello, another shoe dealer, said he has lost several customers because he leaves early. Interviewed, William Apea, the chairperson Lira Main Market Vendors Association, said many traders are relocating their businesses.
“It is the responsibility of the city authority to clear the power bills but they have not done that leading to the disconnection. A number of traders have started shifting their businesses to a better location and this would mean a total loss to the City Authority,” he said.
Morris Ebong, the General Secretary for Lira Main Market, said most vendors refused to pay the bill because of shared meters.
But Richard Okello, the Lira City Council commercial officer, said Lira Municipal Council has partnered with Energy Africa Empowerment, a solar company, to supply and install solar panels in the market.
Lira Deputy Town Clerk, Emmanuel Oyuku Ocen, said the council has not collected any money from the market.
“Yes electricity was disconnected about a month ago over unpaid bills of Shs 29 million since we have not collected any money from the market. Of course if the vendors do not pay taxes, the council will not be able to provide basic utilities but tell them to pay revenue so that the matter is settled,” he said.
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