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Masindi Demands New Modern Market

MASINDI – A heave of frustration and anger is boiling over in Masindi Municipality as vendors lash out at the delayed construction of a new modern market under the Markets and Agriculture Trade Improvement Project (MATIP).

All the riled vendors are allied to Masindi Central SACCO and Masindi Central Market Vendors Association.

David Asiimwe, the chairman of Masindi Central Vendors' Association, said all requirements were met yet the project is not taking off.

"We have enough land measuring five acres and it's free from encumbrances. We also want to operate in a good market. Masindi is one of the traditional districts but we are wondering why it has never benefited from this project yet other traditional districts have benefited,” he said.

Asiimwe said the market is in a sorry state. 

"We operate in darkness because lights are not enough. We also have a problem of thieves who steal vendors’ items. All the gates are dilapidated, thieves easily break in and steal vendors’ properties," Asiimwe said.

There’s only one security guard yet the market has five gates, he said.

Asiimwe said too many vendors are jostling for the small, crowded space in the market.

"This can be addressed when a modern market is built. Right now the congestion is uncontrollable. That is why we are calling upon government to expedite the process (of building a modern market). This market was not well planned, that's why we cannot all fit in here," he said.

According to Asiimwe, the market has over 2,000 vendors; food handlers, old clothes sellers and fish mongers.

Kenneth Bitaroho, a fish monger, said he is disappointed to see Masindi District lagging behind on development yet other districts have become cities.

"Our leaders promised that the project would commence this financial year but we are seeing the year ending without any development. They keep saying next financial year but nothing happens. If other districts have gotten modern markets, why not Masindi?" Bitaroho asked.

Lamura Kabasindi, a vendor in Masindi Central Market, said when it rains, customers avoid the market.

"Whenever it rains, the market becomes muddy and sometimes it floods. How can a customer come to such a market?" she said.

James Masaba, the chairperson of Masindi Central Market, said SACCO officials who run the market are ashamed to collect dues from vendors working in such a bad situation.

He said vendors run the risk of contracting diseases like diarrhea, dysentery and cholera due to poor hygiene and poor garbage disposal.

"We only have one stance latrine to cater for over 2,000 vendors. This latrine is not enough for the whole population. But all these challenges can be addressed when we get a modern market," he said.

According to district elders, Masindi Central Market started with makeshift structures in the 1920s. It was later taken over by government in the 1970s.

"The first people who embraced it were the Nubians who would sell pancakes and rolled simsim," Abiasali Kasingwa, 88, said.

On March 23 2020, the Permanent Secretary Ministry of Local Government Ben Kumamanya wrote to the Town Clerk Masindi Municipality, saying; “Masindi Central Market in Masindi municipality has been considered for re-development and as part of the prerequisite for executing the program, you are required to submit the following; a copy of the land title where the market is located, a copy of the register of vendors and a copy of the management structure."  

According to the letter, Masindi Municipal Council authorities were supposed to send the documents not later than April 17th 2020.

Kumumanya promised that the market would be constructed during the 2020/2021 financial year under the Markets and Agricultural Trade Improvement Project (MATIP). 

The ministry letter raised lots of hope among vendors only to be dampened later.

Haruna Ismail Irumba, the councilor representing the Civic Ward in the municipality, blames Masindi mayor, the town clerk and the area member of parliament for not following up the matter aggressively.

"We were told that they needed a land title for the project to begin. We secured it two years back but nothing is taking off. I think the delay can be blamed on the laxity of our leaders here because everything required was done long time ago," Irumba explained.

Interviewed for a comment, Deo Kabugo, the town clerk Masindi Municipality, told theCooperator that he went to the ministry two weeks ago.

"I was told they had advertised for a consultant to do the architectural design. All the required documents were sent. The people of Masindi should be rest assured that they will get the market since it's already in the process," he said.

The new mayor for Masindi Municipality Ronald Kyomuhendo Busingye said his team met the Minister of Finance Matia Kasaija who assured them the market will be rebuilt.

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