Government Defends Relocation of Park Yard Vendors
Government has defended its actions to relocate over 10,000 vendors operating in Park Yard market in Kampala’s central business district.
In the wee hours of Monday morning, police stormed the Park yard market, demolishing stalls on the orders of Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA) Minister, Beti Olive Kamya. This was 10 days to an earlier 30-day deadline she had issued to the vendors to relocate.
Hundreds of vendors were seen on Monday morning wailing and counting losses as Police blocked some of them from accessing their stalls to save their merchandise.
But in a statement issued at Parliament on March 1, 2017, Kamya told MPs that the market belongs to Nakivubo War Memorial Stadium and was designated as a parking lot for the stadium.
She explained that the land was encroached on by vendors but efforts to regain the space by the Nakivubo board to reclaim it have been futile for over 20 years, with interference from some individuals seeking political clout.
“This is a twenty year story of the owners trying to repossess their premises and have been haggling and no decision taken. If a government can haggle with illegal vendors for 20 years to develop p one acre of land, surely what else will they do?” she questioned.
The KCCA Minister also explained the early morning eviction exercise, revealing that there were plans by a group of vendors to block the process through a court order.
“I received communication that the vendors had peacefully agreed to relocate to Usafi before the orders were given. However there were efforts by some smart people to get a court order to block relocation and so it was smart to do so a day before,” Kamya explained.
The minister revealed that the area developer, Hamis Kiggundu has offered 1000 stalls at his shopping mall where were offered in Ham shopping mall and offered to pay 700 stalls for vendors in Usafi market for six months.
She said KCCA has also reserved a total of 500 work spaces for vendors at Usafi market, 51 in Wandegeya market while 2000 vendors will be accommodated at Ham shopping center.
“I am proud that we have successfully brought to an end a 20-year old and relocated over 10,000 people without injury and teargas or mayhem,” she concluded.
Charles Bakabulindi, State Minister in charge of Sports, supported Kamya’s statement, saying that efforts by the ministry to have this matter resolved have been in vain.
Bakabulindi said Federation of International Football Association (FIFA) banned international matches a Nakivubo due to the encroachment by the vendors.
“These people were aware that they were here illegally. After a month, development at Nakivubo stadium will commence,” the minister stated.
However her statement did not come without criticism as MPs, mainly from Kampala condemned the manner in which the minister ordered for the eviction of the vendors.
Ibrahim Kasozi, Makindye East wondered why Kamya , who used to previously condemn such acts before she was appointed Minister, could condone such relocations without due notice.
Allan Ssewanyana, Makindye West MP, wondered why the stall demolitions were done in the night, adding that there was a lot of suspicion surrounding the exercise, done a few days to deadline day.
Latif Ssebagala, Kawempe North MP however disputed Bakabulindi, saying the issue of illegality does not arise.
Ssebagala said the vendors have been paying money to Nakivubo stadium, recognizing that they are renting in the premises.
“What we need to do right now, if these people have been operating illegally, I would have suggested that the timeframe given to relocate them, would have been enough so they relocate peacefully,” the MP said.
Kampala Central MP, Mohammed Nsereko demanded that the minister comes to Parliament with a list of all affected vendors and where they were relocated to.
Moses Kasibante, Rubaga North MP, condemned the brutality meted on the vendors as they struggled to salvage their property. Robert Ndugwa, Buvuma Islands MP said the exercise had been conducted selectively, with some vendors and those renting the lock up shops left out.
The Speaker of Parliament, Rebecca Kadaga directed the Prime Minister to present a treasury memorandum on the report on government land within one month.
Kadaga lamented over the rampant evictions from the city center, and ordered for a list of all vendors in all the markets and those who were evicted from Park yard.
“We cannot allow Ugandans to be treated like rubbish,” the Speaker lamented,” she said.