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Gulu City Traders Shun Sleeping in Markets

The vendors, especially women, argue that the markets they are operating from are unhealthy, insecure and have poor structures, which could make them vulnerable to contracting diseases and falling prey to criminals.
Some of the Market Vendors in Gulu Main Market recently selling outside from the Market

Audio 4

Market vendors in Gulu City have ignored the presidential directive of sleeping in the markets.

Last month, President Museveni directed that market vendors should sleep within the markets to reduce travel to contain the transmission of COVID-19.

The vendors, especially women, argue that the markets they are operating from are unhealthy, insecure and have poor structures, which could make them vulnerable to contracting diseases and falling prey to criminals.  

There are more than 4,000 market vendors in Gulu City operating from the different gazetted markets including Cereleno, Layibi, Railway, Kabedopong, Olailong, Lacor and Gulu Main Market among others.  

However, none of the vendors from those markets has been sleeping in their respective markets as directed by the President.

At Cereleno Market, Mego Florence who sells vegetables says that she has been commuting from her home in the Bardege-Layibi division to and from the market due to the lack of beddings, poor structures and hygienic conditions in the markets and its neighbourhood.  

She added that the majority of the vendors are also parents and cannot leave their children and spouses to spend nights at home in their absence.  

Mego added that it is also risky to leave their homes without anyone or only children lest criminals will take advantage and break into their houses.  

Another vendor from Gulu Main Market who spoke on condition of anonymity said that the female vendors will also suffer sexual harassment from their male counterparts or even indulge in adultery especially at night if they are to share the same markets for sleeping. 

She explained that the government would rather close markets and leave them to suffer if the only option to choose is spending the night in the markets.  

Margaret Lanyero, another vendor in Cereleno market said that spending the night in the markets is not the solution because those who come to buy from the market will still be mingling with other people while outside the market.  

Lanyero, who is also a women leader in the Pece-Laroo division, added that such ideas would trigger domestic violence because the latter will accuse the former of infidelity.

//Cue in: ‘’ka in ineno…   

Cue out: …ka bino boti.’’//  

Francis Obwona, the General Secretary Cereleno market added that they also lack good structures that would allow the vendors to sleep in the markets citing that sleeping in stalls is very dehumanizing and unhealthy.  

He pleaded with the government to allow the vendors to commute from home but sensitize them on adhering to the health ministry`s guidelines and Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) put to combat the spread of COVID-19 in the country.

//Cue in: ‘’gamente okati kwede…   

Cue out: …dano obedo malac.’’//    

Caroline Okwera, the Vice-Chairperson Gulu Main Market Vendors Association says that sleeping in the night is risky for women who are vulnerable to attacks and sexual harassment.  

Brenda Aromorach, a women activist working with the Forum for Women in Democracy (FOWODE) in the Gulu district equally noted that sleeping in the markets will lead to domestic violence and an increase in infidelity among the vendors.  

She added that women and their children who sleep in the market will be exposed to danger and health complications due to inadequate security, lack of proper bedding and poor shelters and toilets in most markets.

//Cue in: ‘’am very sure…  

Cue out: …to use that.’’// 

Denis Odongpiny, the Gulu City Resident Commissioner says that the matter is being handled between the security and the market vendors since they have also not received mosquito nets to facilitate their sleeping in the markets.  

He added that a request will be made to the health ministry to provide the market vendors with mosquito nets if they are to successfully ask them to sleep in the markets.

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