Revenues from Hoima Central market have dropped by 80% months after it was officially opened, officials have said.
The declining revenues are mainly being attributed to the poor market design and ‘illegal vendors’ who are not interested in paying taxes.
This website understands that the market is currently struggling with arrears of over Shs 300 million.
The Hoima Central Market was built at a tune of 13.7 billion Shillings with funding from the African Development Bank (ADB) under the Markets and Agriculture Trade Improvement Project.
Inside this multi-billion market, vendors spend much of their time seated with no customers to buy their goods.
This does not only affect the vendors but also the Hoima city local government which has been hit hard in terms of revenues that have now dropped by 80%.
“The last time I checked we had collected about Shs 20 million shillings from around Shs 80 million that we used to collect,” said Brian Kaboyo, the mayor Hoima City said.
Asiimwe Milton, the Hoima East Division town clerk where the market is located, links the drop in revenue to several factors.
“People are not paying rent and other dues,” Asiimwe said.
He said the occupation of lock ups in the uppers floor is also poor since clients don’t move there. They have remained vacant.
Such challenges would be easy to solve but most of the traders don’t have tenancy agreements.
As a result, illegal vendors whose number hasn’t yet been specified but presumed to be politicians and members of the former market leadership keep on occupying stalls in the market without paying revenue.
“According to what we get on ground, these people aren’t paying the city and they accumulated all these bills yet the project (MATIP) doesn’t accept sub renting of the stalls,” Kaboyo said.
Such anomalies have left the market with arrears of over Shs 30 million.
“The water bills are over Shs 24 million, electricity bills over Shs 8 million. But we inherited all these bills from the previous regime where people thought the market was a bonanza from government,” Kaboyo said.
To the vendors, the decision not to pay taxes is not intentional.
Darlison Balikagila, a vendor said the license fees are suffocating them yet we hardly get any customers to buy their goods.
Kaboyo said the licensing fees which fall between shs 60,000 to shs 100,000 are fair and won’t be subjected to any reduction unless otherwise.
The Hoima city officials are however considering giving vendors a two-year tax waiver.
“Given the fact that the vendors were hit hard by the pandemic, a waiver would be good to them although that doesn’t mean the arrears of the market won’t be paid.” Kaboyo said.
The Hoima central market executive has gone ahead to institute a committee that will ensure that all rightful vendors are registered with signed tenancy agreements.
According to the auditor general report, the combined annual revenues of the seven markets: Hoima Central market, Jinja central market, Gulu central market, Mbale central market, Wandegeya central market, Lira central market and Mpanga central market in Fort Portal that were reconstructed under the MATIP project, is way below the projected Shs 32.8 billion.