Kabale Municipality recently discovered a substantial loss of approximately Shs365 million in expected revenue from its newly constructed central market. The revelation came during a press briefing held at the municipality’s office on Tuesday, where Kabale Municipal Council Mayor, Mr. Sentaro Byamugisha, addressed the matter. He attributed the loss to the delay in signing tenancy agreements between the municipality and Kabale Central Market traders and vendors, a process that was halted by Ministry of Local Government officials.
The municipality had anticipated collecting Shs855 million annually as market dues from Kabale Central Market. However, this target was not met due to the uncollected monthly fees from vendors over the past five months. The disruption in fee collection occurred when certain Ministry of Local Government officials suspended the tenancy agreement signing process, which was intended to streamline payments, according to Mr. Byamugisha.
To provide context, the Local Government ministry’s guidelines specify that vendors operating lockup shops should pay between Shs100,000 and Shs150,000, depending on the shop’s location. Mr. Byamugisha stated that the recovery of the lost funds would commence once the ongoing dispute between the ministry and Kabale Central Market is resolved.
The construction of Kabale Central Market began in December 2019 after the government secured a loan of Shs23.76 billion from the African Development Bank-funded Markets and Agricultural Trade Improvements Project (MATIP). The construction concluded in November 2022, followed by the allocation of workspace for vendors in January. A three-month grace period was granted, lasting from January to March 31, during which vendors were expected to start paying market dues to Kabale Municipal Council.
In mid-July, Local Government Minister, Mr. Raphael Magyezi, halted the registration of all vendors in Kabale Central Market. He pledged to repeat the allocation process for lockup shops and stalls after allegations of unfairness and lack of transparency were raised by some traders and vendors, led by Rev Jack Katarishangwa.
However, Mr. Joshua Mutekanga, Chairman of Kabale Central Market Vendors Association, argued that repeating the allocation process could lead to legal complications against the Minister of Local Government. He asserted that the initial allocation, conducted by officials from the same ministry, had not faced objections from beneficiaries.
Approximately 500 traders operating in Kabale Central Market expressed their readiness to defend their positions, asserting that any attempt to relocate them for a fresh allocation would necessitate a court order, not just ministerial directives.
The new Kabale Central Market boasts 494 lockup shops, 20 bulk stores, 385 stalls, 76 matooke pitches, 20 fish shops, 10 chicken cages, 12 kitchen cooking units, 30 toilets, 12 bathrooms, 10 urinals, CCTV cameras, a police station, public address system, piped water, electricity connection, a parking yard measuring 4,580 square meters, and firefighting equipment. Its total capacity allows accommodation for 1,090 vendors.