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Gulu City Authorities, Vendors Disagree on Reopening of Cereleno Market

Last week, the landowners started erecting structures such as stalls and kiosks and consequently asked interested vendors to reoccupy it which finally led to the resumption of businesses.
A protest letter by the Gulu City Vendors Association.

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Pece-Laroo Division authorities in Gulu City have okayed the reopening of Cereleno Market amidst protest from the City vendors. 

Cereleno Market, situated along the Gulu-Kampala Highway is one of Gulu City`s largest markets with a population of over 3,000 vendors.  However, last year it was closed down by the landowners following a directive by the court. 

Since then, the vendors who were initially occupying it were evicted and forced to find spaces within the different gazetted markets within the City. 

Last week, the landowners started erecting structures such as stalls and kiosks and consequently asked interested vendors to reoccupy it which finally led to the resumption of businesses. 

This however didn’t go down well with the vendors within the different markets in Gulu City under their umbrella the Gulu City Market Vendors Association who petitioned the city authorities to block the reopening lest they take it to the street to show their grievances or even abandon paying revenues. 

In a petition signed by the Gulu City Market Vendors Association`s Chairperson Patrick Omaya and his counterpart Vicky Emootai the General Secretary, the vendors tasked the Gulu City authorities to stop the establishment of structures at the market ground arguing that the market is illegal. 

They further asked City Clerk Moses Otimong to deploy security to bar the vendors from entering the market adding that they will not pay revenue to the council until the matters are resolved amicably.

Francis Okello, the Olayoilong Market Vendors Association Chairperson which is parallel to Cereleno Market says that the vendors are opposed to the reopening of Cereleno Market based on the manner under, which they were evicted last year. 

He argued that the vendors suffered losses and expenses while relocating to the new market sites. 

//Cue in: ‘’kit ma kiryemo… 

Cue out: …avoid inconvenience,’’// 

However, Geoffrey Otim, the Pece-Laroo division Mayor says being a corporate body, the division can enter contracts and sign a memorandum of understanding with landowners harboring the market and allow the market to continue operating. 

// Cue in: “As Laroo –Pece… 

Cue out …with an MOU.” // 

Otim added that Pece-Laroo Division shall operate the market without fear or favor since all they are after is local revenue sources. 

According to Otim, the Gulu City Council Authorities are terming the market as illegal, and yet they are recognizing Olayoilong which is located at Bardege-Layibi division, something he says shows unfairness. 

In an earlier interview with URN, Patrick Oola Lumumba, the Bardege-Layibi division Mayor said the reopening of Cereleno Market was okay as long as the right procedures are followed.

Efforts to get comments from both Alfred Okwonga the Gulu City Mayor and Moses Otimong the Gulu City Town Clerk over the matter were futile since their known phone numbers were unreachable and they were out of office by the time of filing this story. 

Speaking during the Gulu City`s full council meeting on December 22, Local Government Minister Raphael Magyezi said the City Council have the right to allow the operation of markets owned by private developers provided they enter into a formal memorandum of understanding –MOU since the market would require the Council’s services like garbage collection and the Council would also intern collect revenue from it. 

// Cue in: “There must be… 

Cue out …under your jurisdiction.” // 

According to Magyezi, the Council can also declare a market undesirable in case they find that its location does not conform with the City’s physical planning.

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