MASAKA: Several vendors are protesting the use of raffles in the allocation of space and stalls in the newly built Masaka City Central Market. The Local Government Ministry and Masaka City Council are in the final stages of handing over the market to the vendors four years after its construction began.
Built at a cost of Shillings 18.06 billion, the market is expected to host close to 2,000 vendors. The market was constructed under the second phase of the Markets and Agricultural Trade Improvement Program-MATIP II with a loan from the African Development Bank (ADB).
Besides the delayed completion of the project, the city leadership is involved in yet another controversy with the vendors who are disputing a circular proposing the use of the raffle method in the allocation of spaces in the new market. Early this week, Masaka City Commercial Officer instructed the vendors to renew their leadership committees so that they could conduct the process of allocating the stalls.
According to the circular, the Ministry of Local Government guides that all the vendors are subjected to a raffle to determine who occupies which stall in the market to avoid influence peddling. But the vendors say that this method could hurt some of them and help new vendors who weren’t even in the old market.
Yasin Kizito, the coordinator of Milk Dairies and Butchery stall owners, argues that subjecting them to a raffle draw is likely to send them to stalls that are unfriendly to the type of their businesses. He demands that the city authorities use the vendor’s register to allocate them stalls depending on the type of merchandise they deal in.
Kizito predicts a situation where a raffle places dealers in perishable products on the third floor of the market where they can hardly attract enough customers. Emmanuel Luswata, a vegetable vendor, has asked the city authorities to step aside and leave the allocation of space to the leadership of the vendors, arguing that they are cognizant of the preferences of each category of vendor.
Eva Nalwanga, another vendor, also protests the raffle, arguing that there are certain groups of people who have sacrificed their resources and energies for the good market who need to be given special consideration, which the draw is not mindful of.
Benon Kamugisha, the Markets Inspection Officer at the Ministry of Local Government, says they study the vendors’ reservations, but rules out the possibility of avoiding a riffle, which he says was adopted as the universal policy used in the new markets.
According to him, the method was adopted as a solution to eliminate corruption and conflict of interests by their staff in the management of the markets. Michael Mulindwa Nakumusana, the Nyendo-Mukungwe Division Mayor, insists that they are going to continue engaging the vendors to embrace the method, which he says is suitable to deal with personal biases and the high demand for market space.