Godfrey Kayemba, the Masaka Mayor says they agreed to resettle the vendors in the Childrens Park until the construction work is complete. He says they wanted the vendors out of the site so that by the time procurement of the contractor is done, the place is free.
There is tension in Masaka town as the municipality starts evicting vendors from the Masaka main market to pave way for its reconstruction. The municipality has already relocated more than 300 traders from Masaka main market to the Children's Park opposite Masaka Secondary school.
The reconstruction of Masaka market has stalled for the past seven years due to squabbles from different groups including vendors and businessmen claiming ownership of the market land. The disputes prompted the vendors to resist relocation for fear of losing their stalls to the businessmen.
They also claimed that there was no clear information on who owns the market land. It came after two businessmen claimed ownership of part of the land, on which the market sits. However, early this year, government gave the vendors up to December 20th to vacate the market to pave way for construction.
This morning, hundreds of vendors officially complied and relocated to the Children's Park ahead of the construction, which is expected to start in January. Godfrey Kayemba, the Masaka Mayor says they agreed to resettle the vendors in the Children's Park until the construction work is complete. He says they wanted the vendors out of the site so that by the time procurement of the contractor is done, the place is free.
Kayemba says government asked them to clear the project site of vendors to be sure there are no eviction issues, which had stalled the project. According to Kayemba, they have registered all the vendors to ensure they get stalls once the construction of the market is completed.
But local businessman, Joseph Kakumba has petitioned Katwe-Butego division protesting the relocation of the vendors to the Children's Park, saying it belongs to him.
In his petition addressed to Denis Lukanga Majwala, the Katwe-Butego Division LC 3 Chairman, Kakumba wants the vendors off the children park's land, saying he wants to redevelop it. The municipality has shot back, saying Kakumba's title for the disputed children's park land is fake. Majwala says the municipality has a genuine title for the land.
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Hajjat Sarah Namusoke, a vegetable vendor says she is excited that the construction work is set to begin. She says the market is in a sorry state since it lacks water as well as sanitation facilities.
The only latrine they had was closed. The market according to her lacks security lights as well as firefighting equipment, which makes it susceptible to fire outbreak.
Constructed in 1950s, Masaka main market has never had any major renovation.