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Kampala Traders Angry after Losing Five Colleagues in Protests

The call was made by the Kampala Arcaders Advocacy Forum, KAAFO, a platform for traders operating in the malls and arcades in the city, with a membership of 50,000 personnel in 783 arcades.
20 Nov 2020 14:32
A line of shops along Dastur Street closed

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Traders in Kampala are calling for an immediate end the demonstrations that have disrupted their businesses for three days now.  They say that they have so far confirmed five of their colleagues dead, even when, they were not involved in the politically-motivated protests.   

The call was made by the Kampala Arcaders Advocacy Forum, KAAFO, a platform for traders operating in the malls and arcades in the city, with a membership of 50,000 personnel in 783 arcades.  

It comes after a series of protests that broke out on Wednesday in Kampala and several other towns across the country, paralyzing business activities. The situation was made worse when the security intervened to rein in on the violent protestors using teargas and live bullets.   

Some traders who managed to reach town for work, could not open their businesses over the last two days, because the owners or managers of the buildings kept them locked up for security reasons.  They, however, say that even if they managed to re-open under the situation, they would hardly get any customers because as soon as they open, the running battles begin, and even would-be customers have to safely find their way out of the city.  

They say they are documenting all the losses they have incurred to petition the government for possible compensation, although they are sure the government will not be willing to compensate them, considering how long the issue of traders in South Sudan has taken.  

A group of Ugandans trading with South Sudan have for the last seven years pursued the government to fulfil its promise to pay them and later deal with the government in Juba for the losses they incurred in civil conflicts.

The Spokesman of the forum, Muzamiru Kwebiha dismisses reports that the traders also participate in the demonstrations and attract the wrath of the security forces. He says that instead, due to their numbers, politicians seeking visibility target the busy business areas for easy visibility, and unfortunately, looters also see an opportunity to raid shops.    

//Cue in; Surprisingly, we…

Cue out…People who are innocent.”//  

The disruption of businesses comes at a time when most traders were still coming to terms with the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic which left many of them with depleted capital and others failing to resume business at all, when the lockdown was eased. They are also still struggling to deal with their rent arrears.   

The traders say they petitioned the Speaker of Parliament to have protests controlled, especially those involving high profile politicians, but this has not been achieved. The protests that started on Wednesday after the arrest of two opposition presidential candidates seemed to have been spontaneous, with no central command, and could therefore be hard to regulate.

Kwebiiha says that for now, they hope peace will return soon to the country so that the business environment also normalizes. 

//Cue in; Probably as we go along…

Cue out... will likely shoot up.”//

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