New Market in Kampala gives Owino Market a Run for its Money

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Shops in downtown Kampala is known to be sympathetic to low budget customer. Prices of goods are fairly affordable and the further you go down Kampala Road, Luwum Street and Market street, the cheaper things are.

The largest second-hand goods market in Uganda, Owino Market, is located in this area. It is popular with shoppers from both within the capital city and from surrounding districts and towns and has been a rags-to-riches story for many market vendors. However, vendors in Owino Market have been warned to be on their guard. A new, much smaller, but much more affordable market has opened up just 200 meters away.

On the southern side of the Old Taxi Park a new market has sprung up. In it are sold items not so different from those in Owino. You can get an old designer suit, a used pair of shoes, imitation jewelry, handbags, school bags, belts and even old toys.

The market, located in what used to be an empty square is popular with women who use it as a place to get one-of-a-kind clothes and lingerie. At the market, you can even buy bread and milk just before you head on back home.

The Old Taxi Park yard market opens at about 8 a.m. to target people coming in to town from work. The second-hand goods are primed and polished, a promise of shopping nirvana on the way back home.

Robert Kiberu, one of the vendors who sell belts and men's accessories, says he is not surprised by the growing popularity of the market. He says his goods are cheap and affordable and offer everything from shoppers with just 1,000 shillings to those who can afford goods for as much as 10,000 shillings.

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Cathy Kansiime, a Law student at Uganda Christian University Mukono, was busy looking for a bargain at the Old Taxi Park market. She said the market saves her from the inconvenience of going to Owino. She explained that although Owino has a large variety of goods, the vendors at the Old Taxi Park are polite and do not jostle you or call you names to convince you to buy their products.

Kansiime said she is a regular at the market and will be back again.

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The Old Taxi Park Market is not only popular with shoppers. Abraham Muwonge, an 18-year-old man who has just finished his Senior Four, said he is working at the market to raise money for school fees. He said he has been offered a place in Kasubi Secondary School for his advanced level education, but cannot afford to take it up just yet.

Muwonge, whose boss is a student at Makerere University, said he hopes to raise enough money from his sales of necklaces, rings and bracelets, to allow him to return to school soon.

The market is however not unlike all others in Kampala. It too faces challenges of insufficient sanitary facilities for the vendors, irregular garbage collection and over congestion. One man who was buying shoes for his son, said it would be a disaster is a highly contagious disease broke out in the market.

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Providing services to the vendors is the responsibility of the New and Old Taxi Park Mobile Traders Association, which collects 500 shillings from each of the vendors everyday. The association, established in 2002 to represent hawkers in downtown Kampala, uses the money to clean the park yard before the business day begins.

Joel Kawuki, treasurer of the New and Old Taxi Park Mobile Traders Association, explained that vendors located on shop verandas pay 70,000 shillings to lease the small space and those within the yard pay 50,000 shillings. He said there is little the association can do to improve other services because it doesn't own the park yard and is not allowed to put up any permanent structures on it.