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Lira Vendors Protest Eviction

LIRA – Vendors in Lira City have continued to rally against their eviction from the streets.
On June 17, city authorities resolved to suspend street vending because it draws crowds, which are super spreaders of Covid-19.

The vendors have been asked to secure stalls inside city markets or find other confined places to operate without attracting large crowds.

Patrick Ogweng, the Lira deputy City Clerk, said  suspension of street vending is in compliance with the presidential directives against big gatherings.

“The president made it very clear that you wash hands and sanitize before entering the market. Now what happens to somebody shopping or vending by the roadside, which is not a gazzeted market?” he asked. 

“I think by allowing street vending to continue, we shall be acting in defiance of the presidential directive,” he added.

Most street vendors however, are not willing to leave the streets.

Interviewed, Chris Ongom, the chairperson Lira Street Vendors Association, suggested vendors should be relocated to the veranda of the main market instead of suspending their operation.

“During this lockdown life is a priority, but the idea of suspending our operation is unfair because it will do us more harm than good. I am suggesting that vendors should instead be relocated to the veranda of the main market,” he said in a telephone interview.

Mercy Akello, an avocado seller along Noteber Road, said city authorities have no justification to chase them from the streets because they were never allocated a designated business premise in the first place.

According to her, city authorities should provide an alternative location lucrative for business before asking them to leave their current position. 

Jackie Akello argued that evicting vendors will not only disrupt their livelihoods but also expose them to greater risk of catching the Coronavirus since  markets are more crowded than the streets.

“We are not going to the main market, you know how busy it is, if the Lira City Authority has no other options of getting a safer place for us, then it’s upon them but we are going nowhere,” she said.

Erick Ongom, a shoe vendor along Obote Avenue, argued that getting them off the streets is not a solution to Covid-19. He said they religiously observe the Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs).

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