Owino Market on sale over debts

Owino Market on sale over debts

By Serestino Tusingwire

Part of Kampala’s biggest market, St. Balikuddembe aka Owino market could be sold off soon by public auction unless the traders pay off a debt owed to DFCU bank.

The market leadership which borrowed Shs4billion shillings from the bank to purchase and redevelop the market has since failed to pay back Shs2.8 billion accrued in interest and default fees.

DFCU bank is seeking to auction the land in Kisenyi that hosts part of the sprawling market which the traders staked as security to acquire a loan of over Shs4billion.

The money was to be used to purchase and redevelop the market into a modern facility, but paying back the debt has now become problematic.

An ensuing wrangle between the market management and Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA) led to various defaults on the loan repayment and DFCU has already obtained a court order instructing it to auction the property within 30 days if the traders do not pay up the loan.

The market leadership is under pressure from the traders to save their place of work.

Kampala Lord Mayor Erias Lukwago says the traders made an ill advised decision to take a loan from a commercial bank.

Lukwago who was out office at the height of his wrangles with government and the KCCA technical team when the loan was contracted, says KCCA has to shoulder some of the blame in the predicament of the market traders.

Erias Lukwago is now advising the traders to seek a government bailout.

St. Balikuddembe market is home to over 50,000 traders who make in over Shs3billion monthly.

The traders took ownership of St. Balikuddembe Market from KCCA in 2010, but they were barred from collecting market dues which they occasionally used to service the loan and they have since then struggled to pay.