Kampala Struggles Under Traders' Protest

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Kampala Struggles Under Traders' Protest
Most shops remained closed in the CBD on Tuesday | Courtesy-Radio Pacis

Downtown Kampala is a shell of its former self. Shops are shuttered with padlocks, and the usual bustling energy is replaced by an unsettling quiet. This is the fallout of the ongoing demonstration by traders against the Uganda Revenue Authority (URA) and the Electronic Fiscal Receipt and Sales System (EFRIS).

While the impact on tax collection for both URA and the traders themselves remains unclear, other sectors are bearing the brunt of the protest. Restaurants, taxi drivers, and boda boda riders (motorcycle taxis) are experiencing a significant drop in business.

Real People, Real Struggles

MJ Lambeka, a plantain vendor, exemplifies the hardship faced by many. His daily sales have plummeted from 200,000 shillings to a meagre 7,000 shillings, leaving his family struggling.

Moses Mukisa, a chapatti vendor for 15 years, shares Lambeka's woes. His daily income has shrunk from around 35,000 shillings to a mere 5,000 shillings.

The situation isn't limited to food vendors. Grace Nandawula, a mother of twins who sells wigs, has seen her sales plummet from 70,000 shillings to a meagre 20,000 shillings. To make ends meet, she's forced to sell her products at a significant loss.

Domino Effect on Businesses

The closure of shops creates a domino effect. Rent looms over many shop owners, adding another layer of stress. Ntale Jerimaih, a clothing trader, worries about upcoming rent payments with his shop closed.

The transportation sector, too, is feeling the pinch. Boda boda riders like Mwanje Kassim, who pay daily loan instalments on their motorcycles, fear losing their livelihood if the protest continues. Without customers, they struggle to meet their daily payments.

Caught in the Crossfire

Ali Ateker, an Indian trader, emphasizes the counterproductive nature of the protest, highlighting the harm it inflicts on the very people it seeks to empower.

Traders Look to the President

Despite the hardships, the Kampala City Traders Association (KACITA) remains resolute. They believe this protest is a necessary nudge to force the government to address their concerns, including EFRIS and the heavy-handedness of URA enforcement.

KACITA chairman Thaddeus Nagenda Musoke emphasizes the steps they are taking to ensure a productive meeting with the president.

With Friday's meeting looming, only time will tell if the president will grant the traders' wishes and if a resolution can be found to bring normalcy back to Kampala's streets.

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