June 5, 2014

Owino Traders Raid New Shopping Space

Vendors in Nakivubo park yard have started pooling resources to book space in the newly built Ham Shopping grounds. The four storied complex stretches from Namirembe road opposite Jesco building all the way to Kafumbe Mukasa road. At least 2000 vendors were displaced from Park Yard market to pave way for the construction of Ham shopping grounds, which is comprised of more than 100 shops, a mosque and a super market.

The new shopping space in the background. Photo by Abubaker Lubowa
The new shopping space in the background. Photo by Abubaker Lubowa

Despite the fact that the construction work is incomplete, some of the shops are already operational. Traders there deal in general merchandise such as clothes, bags, shoes and bed sheets. Some of the former vendors in park yard market have taken up shops in the new complex. Yahaya Ssemakula has been a second hand shoe vendor at Park yard market for the last 15 years. Ssemakula says park yard market is almost his second home, adding that not even the recurring fires could make him change location.

He teamed up with four others to raise money to book space in Ham Shopping grounds but says it is yet to pick up. Ssemakula and his friends paid shillings 1.2 million for the space in the mall, which they say is costly compared to the stalls in park yard market. They hope that the business picks up before their six month elapses or they will be forced to change location. Meddie Kakande is another former shoe vendor in Nakivubo park yard.

Kakande has rented space in Ham Shopping grounds and changed business to sell blankets, bed sheets, and towels. According to Meddie, he changed business to increase his profit margin so to be able to meet the bills at the new building. Despite the fact that some of the vendors have taken a bold move to relocate to Ham shopping grounds, there are several who are still hesitant.

Loyce Kakande, a food vendor is one such vendor. She is pessimistic about the prospects of getting customers once she moves to the new malls. According to Kakande, food vendors have been told to occupy the upper floor at a subsided rate of 300,000 thousand. She says it will be hard for people to move upstairs to look for food when they can get it down. Efforts by our reporter to speak to the management of the shopping mall were futile as the officials found at the office declined to speak.

The trader’s fears could however be short lived because of the strategic location of the shopping mall. Ham shopping groundsis within walking distance from Nakivubo stadium, Qualicel Bus terminal both the new and old taxi parks.

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