Mbale Municipality has embarked on the eviction of more than 400 street vendors operating in Mbale town. Several law enforcement officers backed by Local Defense Unit personnel from the divisions in the Municipality started combing the streets on Monday morning to evict the vendors. Led by Joseph Wangisi, the Municipality senior law enforcement officer, the personnel and the law enforcement officers embarked on clearing the streets of kiosks and stalls that were being used by the street vendors.
The eviction follows a notice issued by the authorities and sensitization of the vendors to leave the streets and occupy spaces within the various markets. By Monday afternoon, the streets had been cleared removing doubt from the public that the vendors may forcefully resume business shortly after their eviction. James Kutosi, the spokesperson Mbale Municipality says that they have allowed the vendors to operate on the verandahs within the municipality until the end of May this year when the construction of Mbale main market is expected to be completed.
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He says that they carried out the eviction to restore sanity and order in the Municipality. He says that they were particularly concerned that the Vendors had turned Mbale town into an open market.
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Most streets in Mbale town have for the past few months been flooded with merchandise. The most affected streets are Naboa Road, Central Road and Bishop Wasikye road. During afternoons and evening rush hour the town is thrown into total confusion and vendors, buyers and pedestrians blend along the busy lanes. The confusion is further aggravated by noise generated from giant speakers used by the traders to attract customers to buy their merchandise.
At Naboa and Bishop Wasikye Roads, the entire walkways stretching for close to more than five hundred meter is covered with merchandize ranging from shoes, fresh foods, second hand clothes to electronics and movies. Other traders who operate in shops have consistently complained that the vendors are inconveniencing them by blocking access to their shops. Jospeh Wandeka, a whole sale dealer along Bishop Wasikye road says the vendors have made him lose customers because they have occupied the parking space where his customers usually park.
However, some of the evicted vendors have threatened to return to the streets. Daniel Luku, a dealer in shoes and children wear says they are operating on the streets because the makeshift Kumi Road Market they were allocated to pave way for the redevelopment of Mbale main market is outside the central business district. He says that they resorted to working on the streets for fear of losing their customers. But Kutosi warns that they will be left with no option to use force to evict anybody who tries to resis the peaceful eviction exercise.