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Running Battles as Vendors are Evicted from Kitgum Streets

During the clampdown that was enforced by the Central division authorities, police and law enforcement officers were overwhelmed by rowdy altercations as the street vendors resisted the eviction. Some were seen running around with their goods while others had their merchandise thrown on the streets.
A section of market vendors engage in altercations with Kitgum Central Division authority on Monday Photo By Dan M Komakech

Audio 3

Vendors operating along Pager Cresent Road in the Central Division of Kitgum Municipality on Monday engaged security and division authorities in running battles during a forceful eviction from the streets.

During the clampdown that was enforced by the Central division authorities, police and law enforcement officers were overwhelmed by rowdy altercations as the street vendors resisted the eviction. Some were seen running around with their goods while others had their merchandise thrown on the streets.

The eviction came hours after the vendors mainly dealing in fruits and vegetables were requested to vacate the main bus park where they have been operating since the second lockdown against coronavirus was imposed. Alfred Ocan the General Secretary of Kitgum Market Vendors Association says the affected vendors were operating at the bus park on a recommendation of the district COVID-19 task force.

According to Ocan, following the partial lifting of the lockdown by President Yoweri Museveni last week, the authorities of the bus park asked the vendors to vacate the space. Ocan, however, says that they did not have an alternative apart from returning to the streets since there is no adequate space to accommodate them in the two temporary satellite markets that were established to pave way for the construction of the main market.

//Cue in; “ki bino ki…

Cue out….odongo kany.”//

Ricard Gimei, the Chairperson of the street vendors says they are unhappy with the way they were handled by the enforcement officers. Gimei says they lost merchandise worth millions of shillings during the clampdown and have petitioned the offices of the Mayor and the Resident District Commissioner to intervene in their grievances.

Gimei however says they opted to relocate to the streets since there was no alternative place offered to them to operate after being evicted from the bus park.

//Cue in; "wan lockdown...

Cue out....kany nono"//

Bosco Kidega-Chalo, the Senior Assistant Town Clerk for Central Division however says the operation was in line with a council resolution against illegal trading activities along the streets, road reserves and side walkways. According to Kidega-Chalo, the continued presence of the street vendors has been creating disorder in the town, a traffic worry and hygiene concerns due to poor garbage disposal and drainage blockage by refuse being produced by the street vendors.

Kidega says that despite several pleas for the vendors to vacate the streets or risk forceful eviction, they have remained defiant and abusive against the law enforcers and continued to display their merchandise on the streets.

//Cue in; “since the president….

Cue out….from the roadside”//

The Kitgum Resident District Commissioner William Komakech confirms having received the street vendors' concerns although he condemned the use of force and destruction of merchandise which he pledged to investigate and sanction appropriate action of the perpetrators.

Komakech says his office has directed the division and municipal authority to look for another optional space to temporarily accommodate the affected vendors amidst ensuring that the standard operating procedures to contain the coronavirus pandemic are adhered to.