BY ANDREW COHEN AMVESI
October 3, 2022
ARUA. Hundreds of Arua City vendors who had hoped to get stalls and lock-ups in the new Arua Central market are still crying, two months after the visit of Raphael Magyezi, the Minister of Local Government.
On July 20, 2022, Magyezi led a team of technical staff from his ministry to Arua City on the invitation of Jackson Atima Lee Buti, the Arua Central Division Member of Parliament (MP) who also doubles as the regional Government Whip for West Nile region.
This is after several vendors petitioned the MP to ask the government to urgently intervene in the mess surrounding the allocation of stalls and lock-ups in the newly commissioned Arua central market.
The shs34.9bn Arua central market was funded by the African Development Bank through the government of Uganda. It has over 4, 000 stalls and lockup shops, bulk storage facility, day-care center, meeting and conference room, CCTV cameras and a public address system among other things.
But after its completion, hundreds of the vendors complained to the Minister that they have failed to get stalls and lock-ups in the market despite signing memorandums of understanding (MOUs) with Arua City Authority.
The most affected vendors are the members of Owino market lock-up owners association who previously owned stalls where the new market was constructed.
Before being relocated to the social center market, Arua City officials agreed with Owino market lock-up owners association members to pave the way for the construction works and promised that they will be prioritized during the allocation of stalls and lock-ups in the new market upon its completion.
But since the start of the allocation exercise early this year, the majority of vendors have been left out despite having signed MOUs with the City Authority.
However, the Minister’s coming, more than two months ago – was seen as a sigh of relief to the vendors, only to be disappointed again after failing to receive any communication from officials on the possibility to be relocated to the new market.
Earlier during his visit, Magyezi stated that he is going to investigate reports indicating that people are getting money to allocate stalls including those who are not supposed to be in the market but they are having stalls there.
“If you have a stall there and you are not supposed to be there, hand it over tonight because I’m going to find out, don’t worry, I have my machinery. We are going to find out who has which stall even if you hide it under the names of somebody else, I’m going to find it out,” Magyezi promised.
The Minister went ahead to appoint a team headed by Alice Akello, the Arua Resident City Commissioner (RCC) to investigate the matter, but to date, the team has not yet made its findings public.
The delay to allocate stalls and lock-ups to the affected vendors has now forced some of them to drag Arua City Authority to court with the aim of seeking justice.