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Masindi: Market-based, mobile banana traders clash

Matooke sellers in Masindi’s central market have petitioned the district’s municipal council to deal with mobile banana traders who sell their produce right outside the market. The market vendors made the petition through their umbrella organization, the Masindi Matooke Traders Association (MMTA). 

Last week there were confrontations between the mobile matooke traders and market traders who demanded that the former go and sell their produce from elsewhere.

Aisha Kiiza, the Chairperson, MMTA, says that the practice disadvantages the market dwellers by cutting off potential customers before they enter the market, thereby reducing on their sales.

“We don’t want to see these mobile traders outside the market since we pay tax on a daily basis. We are badly affected and need an answer from the municipality,” she said.

Among the mobile traders, Kiiza says, are those who transport the matooke on trucks, and sometimes even supply the market vendors before setting up outside the market and also selling directly to customers.

Grace Biingi, a matooke trader based within the market, says that buyers prefer the mobile traders because their prices are lower.

“I am even failing to provide for my family because I am not selling as much. I am appealing for the intervention of Masindi municipal council authorities into the matter,” explained Biingi.

Ausi Kunanuka, the Law Enforcement Officer at Masindi municipal council confirmed receipt of the market traders’ petition.

“I have already discussed with David Asiimwe, the Chairperson Masindi Central Market Vendors Association, and with the banana sellers’ management, and harmonized how we shall handle the matter.”

He, however, blamed the conflict on the recent bumper harvest for bananas.

“A lot of matooke is coming into Masindi from outside on top of the many being harvested within the district,” Kunanuka explained.

Internal rift

Meanwhile, the clash between the two groups of banana traders has brought to light a rift between the market-based traders and the market’s tender committee.

Aisha Kiiza, the MMTA Chairperson, accuses the chairperson of the market traders’ tender committee, one James Masaba, of allowing the mobile traders to sell outside the market at a fee.

But Masaba says the market traders forced his hand when they allegedly refused to pay their dues.

“The Municipal council set the fees that matooke traders should pay when entering the market depending on the size of the vehicle,” Masaba said.

However, he added, many market traders refused to comply, which prompted him to start charging the mobile traders in order to recover the money that had been invested in the tender.

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