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Wobulenzi Roadside Vendors Reinstated

Nakamatte ordered the eviction of the vendors due to fears of a fire outbreak since they operate close to Shell Pump station and poor sanitation.
Some of Vendors after recieving thier table that had been confiscated by enforcement offices at Wobulenzi town council

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Paul Lubowa, the Luweero Resident District Commission has reinstated more than 150 vendors along the Kampala-Gulu Highway who were evicted on Tuesday by Wobulenzi town council. Lubowa ordered the vendors to resume their work on Wednesday, a day after they were evicted on the orders of Irene Nakamatte, the Wobulenzi Town clerk. Nakamatte ordered the eviction of the vendors due to fears of a fire outbreak since they operate close to Shell Pump station and poor sanitation.  She said the activities of the vendors near the pump station could spark off a huge fire outbreak.

She also accused of them of contributing to the poor sanitation in the town council because of littering. Some of the vendors sell fried chips, chapatti, food, roasted meat and maize among others. Following the directive from the town clerk law enforcement officers descended on the vendors on Tuesday and impounded their property such as cooking stoves, tables, chairs, umbrellas and Kiosks. The eviction of the vendors drew protests from local politicians forcing Paul Lubowa, the Luweero Resident District Commissioner and DPC Godfrey Ninsiima to convene a crisis meeting to diffuse the tension.

It came after the evicted vendors pitched camp at the town council offices and threatened to riot unless they are allowed to resume their operations. Lubowa told URN that they had resolved in the meeting to allow the vendors to resume their operations because they were evicted without prior warning. He however, says the vendors must maintain proper hygiene and desist from using stoves near the fuel pump station.  Lubowa has ordered Mario Ociti, the Officer in charge of Wobulenzi Police Station and the leadership of the vendors to monitor their activities to ensure they don’t breach the new guidelines.

 

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Sebastian Ssebaggala, the Wobulenzi town Council LC 3 chairperson faulted the town clerk for evicting the vendors without identifying an alternative place for them to operate from. He says proposed site near Post Office in Luzzi Zone is private property adding that, they have not entered any agreement with its owner to resettle the vendors on his land. 

Abdul Mugerwa, one of the affected vendors says they have been operating close to the pump fuel station for decades and there has not been any fire outbreak over the time. Mugerwa says despite the fact that they use stoves, they operate at a safe distance. Charles Mukiibi, the chairperson Basooka Kwavula Vendors’ Group has welcomed the decision by the RDC to reinstate them. He wants the town clerk to compensate them for destruction of their property during the eviction exercise. 

Madinah Nakakande, a food vendor says the law enforcement destroyed her stove and table worth 200,000 shillings. According to Nakakande she acquired the stove and table using a loan from a Sacco. She says since they were evicted on Tuesday her family has gone without food after her property was destroyed and wants the town clerk to compensate her for the damages. Irene Nakamatte, the Wobulenzi Town clerk insists no property was destroyed adding that, no vendor will receive any form of compensation.

 

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James Mukwaya, a trader in Wobulenzi town says neither the Town council nor the owners of the Fuel pump station have capacity to monitor to the activities of vendors to prevent fire outbreaks. He insists the vendors must be relocated to a more convenient area and accuses the RDC of being a populist instead of addressing the issue at hand. In 2011 and 2012, Wobulenzi town council tried to evict the vendors in vain due to political interference.