Kampala. Usafi market vendors are to date still embroiled in management wrangles with middlemen whom they accuse of hiking fees by subletting shops despite Kampala Capital City Authority’s (KCCA) resolution to have all rent reduced by 40 per cent.
Mr Henry Mutiibwa, the Usafi market interim chairperson, told Daily Monitor that people who sublet the shops set their own rental fee standard to maximise profits and hence push out ordinary vendors from the market yet they are the rightful beneficiaries of the market.
“KCCA banned subletting in Usafi to protect the ordinary vendors from the rich whose aim is to just maximise profits. However, the vice has persisted because some of these middlemen have connections with big people in the Authority who back them. This market was bought to accommodate street vendors but they are not benefiting from it,” Mr Mutiibwa said.
He also wondered why Mr Umar Ssekamate, the proprietor of Safinet (U) Ltd, who sold the market to government through KCCA is still wielding influence as far as management of the market is concerned.
“Some of the people in Usafi have tenancy agreements signed by Mr Ssekamate and whenever we engage them on reducing rent as per council’s resolution, they say that they don’t know KCCA. This has created a lot of tension among vendors,” he said.
In April, Usafi market Interim Committee petitioned the Minister of Kampala Affairs, Ms Beti Olive Kamya, decrying how vendors are being mistreated by middlemen.
“…these middlemen conspire and induce some KCCA officials to force subtenants to vacate Usafi market lockups by signing eviction agreements,” reads in part the petition.
They explained that middlemen disguise ownership of multiple lockups by registering them in different names and pretend to be caretakers when collecting rent from subtenants.
However, KCCA spokesperson Peter Kaujju warned all those claiming to own shops on behalf of Mr Ssekamate to stop before they are arrested. He said Usafi market now belongs to KCCA.
“The market was bought for former vendors and not for the rich. We are also pushing for one person, one facility,” he said.