But many infants are still seen with their mothers in the market, while the centre with a capacity of more than 20 preschoolers is occupied by Uganda Registration Services Bureau – URSB, a semi-autonomous government agency responsible for civil registrations.
The envisaged child care centre at Gulu Main Market has failed to operate four
years after the facility was commissioned.
The centre is meant to host children below school-going
age who are not allowed to spend long hours with their parents in the market. This was considered as one of the measures to protect the children from harm.
But many infants
are still seen with their mothers in the market, while the centre with a capacity of more than 20
preschoolers, is occupied by Uganda Registration Services Bureau – URSB, a semi-autonomous government agency
responsible for civil registrations.
The Market Master, Francis Megolonyo says that Gulu Municipal
Council entered into a Memorandum of Understanding with URSB upon establishing that the centre was among the unoccupied facilities in the market.
//Cue in; “Those are the…
Cue out…are now occupying.”//
Laroo Division Chairperson Moses Abonga says that none of the vendors took children to the centre when the space was available which forced the Division to tender it out to willing entrepreneurs but, their efforts did
not also yield.
//cue in; “By design there…
Cue out…in the lockups.”//
According to Abonga, the daycare centre was also
complemented by a playground that was also never utilized
but instead, it was vandalized due to conflict of interest between Laroo Division and the Mayor's office headed by George Labeja.
//cue in; “We could see…
Cue out…all our roles.”//
But Gulu Municipal Mayor George Labeja dispelled the accusations of
meddling in the work of Laroo Division.
Jennifer Anena, a
vendor at the market observed that many mothers with babies declined to take
their babies to the centre because they were not making significant profit from
their businesses at the time, to allow them to pay for services at the centre.
The 29 billion Shillings’ Gulu Main Market was constructed
and commissioned on October 1, 2016. The market that sits a 4-acre-piece of land was built among other seven modern markets across Uganda under the Markets and Agricultural Trade Improvement Project (MATIP 1).
Ochola's journalism career begun from Radio King 90.2 FM in Gulu around 2009, and Radio Rupiny 95.7 Fm under Vision Group in 2012. He also reported for Mighty Fire 91.5 Fm, Kitgum in 2015 before joining Wizarts Foundation in 2017.
He has been reporting for Uganda Radio Network (URN) since 2017 before being posted as Bureau Chief Kitgum, and latr Gulu between 2018 - 2021. Currently, he reports from Parliament.