HOIMA – One-by-one, vendors are walking out of a fast emptying Hoima Central Market and pouring onto the crowded city streets to sell their merchandise easily.
The abandoned lockups are mainly on the second and the third floor of the storied facility built under the Markets and Agriculture Trade Improvement Project – MATIP.
The Shs 11 billion project was funded by the African Development Bank –ADB. About 100 lock-ups are occupied out of the available 180.
The market has over 800 registered vendors. theCooperator has however, learnt that a number of vendors are abandoning the lock-ups because customers are buying from the streets.
Henry Kyarigonza, the chairperson of Kahoora Market Vendors SACCO, said the growing number of street vendors is under cutting their colleagues inside the market.
He said they have severally asked Hoima city authorities to intervene and force street vendors to operate in gazzeted areas without much success.
“This challenge is also forcing the remaining vendors in the market to abandon the facility and go on the streets since buyers are no longer coming to the market because they get what they need on the street,” he said.
“For example, we had allocated the eggplant sellers lockups inside the market but since they wait for the whole day without getting a customer, they have also moved out of the market to sell their produce on the street,” he said.
Some market vendors have demanded a tax waver, citing slow business and low sales brought on by the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic and unregulated street sales in the central business area of the city.
Many sellers have relocated to city streets including Bunyoro-Kitara and Byabacwezi Roads.
“Every place in the city has turned into a market, therefore I request authorities to force such sellers into the market as a business center for specific commodities other than trapping buyers outside of the market on streets leaving those inside without customers” Haruna Kasangaki, a vendor and SACCO member.
Godfrey Kutegeka, the chairman Hoima Central Market Traders Association, said vendors are pushed out of the market by high taxes.
He demanded a tax waver. He said a combination of slow business, slow sales, outstanding bank loans and tax arrears make it hard for them to pay tax and sustain their trade.
“The vendors have a lot of debts because business slowed down due to COVID-19 and they cannot pay taxes. This forces some to move out of the market and operate on the street,” he said.
Hoima City Clerk, Godfrey Mbamanyisa, insists that vendors must pay their arrears worth about Shs 200 million.
He says failing to pay tax implies a failure to deliver various services in the market like security, water and electricity among others.
“We are supposed to pay UMEME, National Water and Sewerage Corporation (NWSC) and other service providers such as cleaners and security are demanding Shs 42 million. Where should we get this money if the vendors are asking for tax wavers,” he asked.
Mbamanyisa said that soon they will evict all street vendors and hawkers.
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