Mbarara Central market vendors question leaders’ toilet deals  

Amos Tayebwa

Mbarara

It has been alleged that there are some questionable deals between the Mbarara Central Market leadership and some officials from Mbarara City Council and Mbarara City South Division in the management of the market’s toilets’ money and allocation of spaces in the market.

Emmanuel Muhumuza is the market chairman. Vendors now want to know how he started involving himself in the collection of the toilet’s money.

It is said that Mbarara City council has not awarded the contract for the toilets, however it is alleged that collection of the money is managed by the market master and the market chairman Emmanuel Muhumuza under the supervision of the Commercial Officer Mbarara City South Division .

Initially, the market toilets’ tender was being managed by one Steven before his resignation due to misunderstandings between him and the Council over rates.

Before Steven resigned from that tender, he was paying Mbarara City council Shs 4m per month as money from the market toilets.

Later, he raised his complaints to the City Council authority over lights which were no longer working in the toilets and water shutdown.

He asked the council to minimize the rates from Sh4m to 2m but the negotiations were frustrated, something that prompted his resignation. It has been four months now since his resignation.

After the former tenderer’s resignation, the Council and the market leadership decided to take over and manage toilet fee collections themselves.

This issue has caused a lot of noise and conflict among the vendors in the market. The vendors suspect some monies are shared by some market officials and some officials from the council since there is no proper or legal system of collecting that money.

Mbarara Central Market toilets charge Shs 500 for each person who goes there for a short call or long call. The market accommodates about 1070 vendors. According to the information from one of the officials at Mbarara City South Division, apparently about Shs 3.5m is the only money collected from the market toilets per month. But formerly the tenderer was paying the council Shs 4m per month.

The vendors have also raised their complaints against the market leadership and some officials from Mbarara City Council alleging that there are illegal allocation spaces along the five market main gates which were not gazetted for any business to take place in those areas.

This is something which vendors say was done illegally according to the allocation policies.

Those spaces that were illegally created were allocated to some individuals who pay directly to some unknown officials from Council and the market.

Sources have also revealed that there are no lights on the last floor of the market and the vendors operating on that level have lamented for so long but the responsible people have given it deaf ears yet they pay rent like others.

One of the officials from Mbarara City South Division trashed the allegations that there is mishandling of toilet fee collections when this publication contacted him for a comment.

He said that council has not advertised for the contract award for the market toilets, the commercial office and the team including the market master were given powers to collect that money and pass it directly to the Mbarara City Council revenue authority.

He further said that sometimes the market chairman gives a helping hand to collect this money.

He also clarified on the issue of illegal allocation spaces on the main gates.

He mentioned that he had initiated the idea to get those allocations either dismissed from those areas that were not gazetted for the businesses in that market or the people working on those spaces start paying for those areas they are operating on because he realized that they are cheating the council.

Emmanuel Muhumuza, the Mbarara Central Market Chairman told this publication that he has never obtained or acquired a tender for the toilets in the market as some people allege. He adds that the council has never even advertised for that tender.

“Toilets in the central market are for the council and they have not tendered any other person since the resignation of the former tenderer. My role as the Chairman of the market I am taking care of the Council workers on the money they collect from toilets and it is not within my control because I don’t have any document concerning the ownership of the tender of those toilets because I have never asked for any tender. Those who feel concerned about this issue of toilets’ money let them go and ask the Town Clerk from Mbarara City South Division. They are taking incharge under their market master. But I no longer want to be put in such politics by some people within this market. Let them play their politics because some of them normally have no empirical evidence,” he explained.

Muhumuza was elected as the Chairman of the market replacing Muhammad Nyombi when vendors were shifted from Independence Park to the newly constructed permanent market.

Vendors want Anti-corruption agencies to intervene and do thorough investigations.

Mbarara Central market Vendors and the market leadership have since been having prolonged conflicts and disagreements over poor allocation methods of the lockups and issue of market SACCO.

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