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Kampala Traders Opt for Car Boot Sales as Arcades Remain Shut

As private vehicles returned to the streets and offices were partially opened, after two months of inactivity, amidst a lockdown to contain the spread of coronavirus Disease, President Yoweri Museveni said opening arcades would be self-defeating where there is no guarantee for physical distancing.
Traders resorted to their car boots to sale merchandise as arcades remain closed

Audio 4

From his car boot, Jimmy Kagole Mutawe, a trader at Nabugabo arcade in downtown Kampala sorts his merchandise, in what has become his new normal, as the government maintains a closure of arcades.

As private vehicles returned to the streets and offices were partially opened, after two months of inactivity, amidst a lockdown to contain the spread of coronavirus Disease, President Yoweri Museveni said opening arcades would be self-defeating where there is no guarantee for physical distancing. 

Mutaawe said that his rent arrears had accumulated to 8 million Shillings during the lockdown and worries that he might be thrown out of business once arcades are opened. As a result of this, he thought of a new routine, which involves parking his car on the streets with his merchandise. 

As he lures customers, he tells them the cost for each batch of dresses raised at different windows of his Toyota Wish from which he has removed seats leaving it bear with packets of clothes ranging from dresses, shirts and jeans. Mutawe said he couldn’t stay at home anymore    

//Cue in; “Okusingila ddala...

Cue out... ali wagulu.”//  

Here, he multitasks between selling and keeping a keen watch on the city law enforcement officers who would abruptly grab merchandise from those deemed to be operating illegally. Like him, dozens of cars were seen lining up on different lanes from Nabugabo to Nakivubo and Kyaggwe road. They are all trading through the car boot. The area has almost fifty arcades selling especially clothes, shoes, bags and plastics.  

Michael Kaggwa, one of the traders says that they have to part with 20,000 Shillings on a daily basis to secure parking on those spots which are normally dazzling with crowds. But, they have earned big from improvising even as this doesn’t equate to what they would make before the lockdown. On a good day, he says he sales merchandise worth 5 million Shillings.  

//Cue in; “First of all...      

Cue out...oba owonye.”//    

But, this is not sustainable as Sam Muyomba who is in charge of General Duties in the Kikuubo Business Community trader’s association says. He worries that while this time would be good for traders and arcade owners to forge a way forward, the two parties have not yet met. 

He says that the only meeting that has happened so far was between landlords and the State Minister for Kampala City Benny Namugwanya, which also left the traders in suspense.   

//Cue in; “Akaseera kano…    

Cue out…tukyayina obuzibu obwo.”//   

As they lift the lockdown on arcades, Patricia Kisakye, another trader in Kikuubo says that landlords should reduce the amount of money that they are charging.    

//Cue in; “Rent, am of...    

Cue out...tubalancinge.”// 

But, with mixed reactions on rent payment, opening and continuity of business operations in city arcades, President Museveni has on several occasions come out to urge landlords to be patient with tenants and not evict them with months of no work, something that several sections have protested as being unfair.

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