Mbale Municipal Council has announced it will start prosecuting both street vendors and buyers who are promoting hawking within the town centre.
The directive follows repeated calls by the council for vendors to quit the streets of Mbale in vain.
Mbale Municipality has for several years attempted to evict vendors who nonetheless return. The latest was just three weeks ago when more than 300 street vendors were evicted, but majority of them have since comeback and are conducting business as usual. The walkways along Market Street, Naboa and Bishop Wasikye roads are just flooded with merchandise and cooked foods.
James Kutosi, the Council's Public Relations Officer,observes that these vendors have turned Mbale town into an open market. During afternoon and evening rush hour the town is thrown into total confusion as vendors, buyers and pedestrians blend along the busy lanes. The confusion is aggravated by noise from giant loud speakers used by the traders to attract customers to buy their merchandise.
Now the council has threatened to drag those who defy the orders to vacate the streets and other ungazetted parts in town to court. Kutosi says under the new directive, the council will not only prosecute the vendors but all those who purchase goods from them will also face the same punishment for abetting and aiding street vending.
Kutosi says all the arrangements are now in place to start the prosecution. He said the council has already drafted the final notice which will be issued to the public anytime.
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Kutosi said earlier the street vendors were waiting for the work on the main market to be completed so that they can get spaces therein. However,he says the council is bitter that even after the commissioning of the market, the vendors have since refused to vacate the streets and occupy the spaces in the market.
Stanley Wanyera, one of the vendors, describes the directive as harsh and uncalled for. He claims most of the street vendors failed to secure spaces at recently commissioned modern market.
Wanyera pleads for leniency from the council arguing that they are just struggling to make their ends meet; something he says should be appreciated by the council.