Bukomansimbi goat traders frustrated with prolonged quarantine

Bukomansimbi goat traders frustrated with prolonged quarantine

In Kigangazi Town Council, Bukomansimbi District, a rift has emerged between goat traders and local authorities following the prolonged cattle quarantine affecting the town's livestock market.

The traders' discontent reached a boiling point after neighbouring sub-counties were cleared from foot and mouth disease (FMD) quarantine while Kigangazi remained under the restriction.

Kigangazi Town Council and other sub-counties, including Bigasa, Kitanda, Bukango, and Kagologolo Town Council went into quarantine on January 14 after the outbreak of foot and mouth disease in Bukomansimbi.

Wednesday flea market day, a staple for residents to sell their merchandise, became a battleground for dissent.

Ssekajja Kirigwajjo, a vocal leader among the traders, voiced their grievances, alleging that promises made by a veterinary doctor [Name withheld for legal reasons - editor] to have the quarantine lifted were not honoured despite financial transactions.

“Our veterinary doctor, [name withheld], told us about the foot and mouth disease and he told us that the disease has come from our neighbouring district Sembabule but he told us to collect some money so that they do not put us into cattle lockdown," Kirigwajjo said.

"Each of us brought Shs5,000 but since then we have never seen him anywhere and even if we call him he no longer answers our calls.”

Some of frustrated goat traders in Kigangazi Town Council

Another trader added: “When he was collecting the money, he said it was buying FMD vaccines so that all cattle get vaccinated with the aim of avoiding quarantine but until now he is nowhere to be seen.”

The chairperson for goat traders, John Ssebulime, lamented the dire circumstances faced by traders since January, emphasising their heavy reliance on goat sales for livelihoods.

Grace Nalwoga, who is responsible for fee collection at the market, said she was no longer collecting the dues because of the market's closure, leaving her tender inactive.

“You pay the taxes before starting work. Now I have skipped 16 markets, including those for seasons and those for festive days but this time I skipped the festive days," Nalwoga said.

"I have incurred losses of between Shs2.5 million and Shs3 million, and I do not know where I'm going to get the money from."

Kigangazi Town Council chairperson, Yasin Kawuma, highlighted the economic toll on the council due to lost tax revenue from the dormant market.

He said since Kigangazi is still a new town council, they have never received any funds from the government and the town council was run on taxes yet the goat market is the main source of tax collection in Kigangazi.

The situation escalated further as traders, led by Kirigwajjo, vowed to defy the lockdown and resume selling their goats.

“We are already going back to the market and on Wednesday next week we have to trade by force,” he said.

In response, Steven Nfashengabo, the RDC of Bukomansimbi and head of the district foot and mouth disease task force, reiterated the necessity of the quarantine, citing Kigangazi's role as the epicentre of the disease outbreak.

“The Ministry of Agriculture told us to lift the ban on the sub-counties but Kigangazi remained because it was the source of foot and mouth disease in Bukomansimbi so we are still following up to see whether the disease became has been eradicated,” RDC said.

Despite urging traders to keep calm, tensions continue to simmer between traders and authorities.

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