MASAKA: Traders in the Southern Buganda City of Masaka have raised concern about the delayed opening of Masaka Central Market.
The African Development Bank (AfDB) funded the Shs 18.4 billion market under the second phase of the Markets and Agricultural Trade Improvement Programme (MATIP II) and the Ugandan government at a tune of US $5m (18.5billion)
Government then contracted Multiplex Ltd and Alshams Construction Company Ltd under a joint venture to construct the Market.
Multiplex Ltd on Friday January 6, officially handed it over to Masaka city leadership, to accommodate mostly low income vendors. The three-storied market has 761 stalls and 89 lockups.
However, since then, vendors have never been relocated to the newly built Market. According to the city arrangement, traders were supposed to be relocated after two weeks from the handover date.
Traders have since raised concern about the delayed opening of the Market. The lack of harmonized leadership has been one of the factors delaying the process for the relocation and controversy stems from conflicting lists of vendors that were submitted to the City Council Commercial Officer by parallel factions that both claimed to be genuine leaders of the market, which prompted the City Council to keep it locked.
On Monday, March 27th 2023 the Masaka City Mayor Hon. Florence Namayanja was forced to adjourn the meeting which was meant to discuss the opening of the Market after crushing with Ms. Elizabeth Nakayiza, the Chairperson on Masaka Central Market Vendors and the Vice Chairperson of Masaka City NRM Women’s League for trying to patronize the new market for selfish political gains.
Mayor Namayanja wanted the Market to be opened but Ms. Elizabeth Nakayiza insisted that the Market will not open until all facilities like water are fully functional.
As of now, no one knows the exact date on when the Market will be open for public use.
The construction of the market was supposed to be completed by 2021 but was delayed as the contractors made changes in fixing electrical and solar lights among others.
The old central market constructed in 1936 in the then Masaka township was demolished to pave way for the construction of the new spacious market.
The market which is supposed to host over 2000 vendors has refrigerated rooms for fish vendors, agro-processing facilities, restaurants, drainage ways, solid waste bays, fire fighting facilities, parking yard for loading and offloading goods.
It also has a clinic on the upper floor to provide first aid to vendors in case of any danger, and a childcare center.
Masaka vendors are currently operating in an open space in Masaka Children’s Park and others are scattered on the major streets.