Traders under their Kampala City Traders Association (KACITA) have broken the locks on 12 buildings after businessman Matovu Mansoor refused to open as per the agreement between thevi traders and police to open the buildings at 2 pm. By press time traders had begun to transact business.
Thursday dawned with the traders still locked out of the 12 downtown buildings after their owner Matovu Mansoor had shut them up on Wednesday, February 13 without prior notice.
The business people staged protests on Wednesday, marching from Namaganda Plaza with a petition to office of the Prime Minister. The aggrieved tenants wanted government intervention. Police, however, broke up the march.
Headed by ASP Edgar Kulayigye, the police advised the traders to organise themselves and have a meeting with the force. The traders selected a committee of 12 to do this.
In a meeting with the police and other security agencies, the traders resolved to open the buildings by 2pm on Thursday, February 14.
KACITA chairman Everest Kayondo said that, “We cannot be threatened by a person to whom we had already paid rent.”
The traders decision was supported by Kampala Member of Parliament Muhammad Nsereko. Nsereko said, “If the management of the twelve building fails to open the buildings, break the padlock and transact business.”
This is what happened at 2pm. Although traders were jubilant at the action, many with perishable goods were left devastated. Salim Uhuru, the proprietor of Uhuru restaurant,found he had made a big loss as most of the food he had prepared had long gone bad.
Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA) is also yet to tally its losses from two days of no trade in the affected buildings.
Among the buildings that were shut down by the Matovu are Namaganda, Zai Plaza, Majestic and MM, all on Luwum Street, and Jumbo Plaza on Parliament Avenue were affected. Others closed included; Mini-Price on Ben Kiwanuka Street and Energy Centre on Sikh Road, Jamboree, Qualicel buildings and Nabukera Plaza near New Taxi Park.
Matovu’s action comes two months after the death of his business rival Charles Muhangi with whom they have battled for control of the 0.518 hectare of land on which Qualicel Bus Terminal sits. The other contestant for the land is businessman Drake Lubega.
At the time of his sudden death in December 2018, Muhangi had been awarded control of the land by the courts of law. The wealthy businessmen had then sought for the arbitration of President Yoweri Museveni to bring the decades long fight over the prime city property.
Traders under KACITA and other tenants have repeatedly called for a bill that regulates the relationship between tenants and landlords. KACITA was in parliament on Wednesday to give its views on the proposed bill.