More than 100 vendors in Kikuubo business center in Kampala central business district are stuck following their eviction of their stalls by Kampala Capital City Authority-KCCA to reduce crowding. KCCA has evicted all metallic and wooden stalls that had been erected on the verandas of shops in Kikuubo leaving vendors wondering how to survive.
Fredrick Wamala, who sells curry powder, says that KCCA law enforcement teams stormed the area without warning and asked them to remove their merchandise immediately or risk losing it. Many fumbled to take away their merchandise as the enforcement team brought down stalls and loaded the material on their trucks.
Wamala says that he had just cleared rent of Shillings 500,000 when he was asked to remove his merchandise and the stall taken away. Seated on the verandah where he used to work, Wamala wore a confused face, saying he was uncertain how he would fend for his family now that his job is no more.
Winnie Nalukuuma, another vendor who deals in sanitary ware and toiletries, says that they didn’t receive any warning from KCCA to prepare their exit. She expressed dismay that they have been chased from their working space and left on the streets.
Nalukuuma says rather than eliminate them; KCCA should have enforced the standard operating procedures like social distancing and washing of hands. Speaking with a shaky voice, Nalukuuma blamed the government for lack of a clear strategy to deal with COVID- 19.
Sam Muyomba, the spokesperson of Kikuubo traders, says that they were equally taken by surprise when KCCA started bringing down stalls. Last week, Kampala Resident City Commissioner, Hudu Hussein held a meeting with the leadership of Kampala City Traders Association KACITA when they launched a sensitization campaign against COVID-19 among traders.
During the meeting, Hussein warned of the crowds in Kikuubo, saying the center would be closed if they failed to control crowds. KACITA held sensitization campaigns using sound systems and asked business people in Kikuubo to be vigilant and observe standard operating procedures set by government to control the spread of COVID-19.
The vendors enhanced vigilance by ensuring that everyone accessing the business center washed their hands and has their masks on. The numbers however, seemed uncontrollable as hundreds of people keep entering Kikuubo for shopping. Muyomba says that they do not know at what point KCCA and the RCC decided to evict stalls in Kikuubo. He hoped that KCCA would ask vendors to maintain social distance and de-congest the roadway in Kikuubo.
Both KCCA and the RCC’s Office were not available for a comment. Hudu didn’t pick while the KCCA Spokesperson, Daniel NuweAbine said he was in a meeting and couldn’t talk to our reporter. He also did not respond to text messages to his cellphone.