The Town Clerk, Deo Ndimo, said he was aware of the issues of Mpanga market but asked for more time so as to comment. But the Mpanga Market Vendors Chairperson, Stephen Asiimwe, calls for transparency if the market is to move forward.
Vendors in Mpanga Market in Fort Portal municipality are calling for immediate government intervention into the affairs of the market citing gross mismanagement.
The Mpanga Market Vendor's Chairperson, Stephen Asiimwe, says the Shillings 11 billion facility is at the verge of collapse because of the failure by Fort Portal Municipal council to remit 18 percent of the money collected from the market for its maintenance.
He says the municipality collects unspecified sums of money from the market each month, but doesn't leave behind at any funds to maintain the market. According to Asiimwe, all the sewage pipes are blocked and the flush toilets are no longer functional.
He says the fire alarm and piped water system have also broken down and no one has taken action.
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On Monday morning, UMEME disconnected power supply to the market over a debt of Shillings 900,000. According to Asiimwe, the vendors have already paid their contribution of 1.5 million shillings.
Our reporter toured the market to verify some of the claims found indeed that the toilets are no longer flushing; the water sinks are broken while most of the security bulbs are missing.
There were also visible cracks on the walls of the market walls while a huge heap of garbage lied a few meters from the main entrance to the market. Irene Kabalisa, a vendor blames the users of the market for vandalizing the market property and the authorities for failing to take measures to protect them.
She says most of the users of the market were ignorant on how to use the modern facilities in the market by the time it was constructed leading to their destruction. Charles Aheebwa, the acting Market Master, says he cannot explain the where about of the 10 per cent in question because he also didn't find it.
"The person who left is the one who misused the money. I don't know where it went but during my regime, I'm trying to reverse the situation and ensure that things are move in the right direction," Aheebwa said. He adds that for the one and half years he has been in charge, he found a lot of issues especially related to finances, which he has tried to resolve. He asks the municipal council to find a substantive market master who can take on from him.
The Town Clerk, Deo Ndimo, said he was aware of the issues of Mpanga market but asked for more time so as to comment. But the Mpanga Market Vendor's Chairperson, Stephen Asiimwe, calls for transparency if the market is to move forward.
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He also calls for restrictions on Kabundaire food vendor's market, which he says is only meant to operate for two days but due to laxity in law enforcement it works daily thereby posing stiff competition for vendors in Mpanga market.
The problems of Mpanga market are not new. Last year, vendors in the same market petitioned a team of officers from various government accountability agencies including the Office of the Auditor General, Inspectorate of Government and Public Procurement and Disposal of Public Asset's Authorities-PPDA over similar concerns. However, to date nothing has been done.
Mpanga market is one of the of the seven markets countrywide that were rebuilt by government in 2010 under the Markets and Agricultural Trade Improvement Programme (MATIP-1) – a multi-million dollar project supported by the Government and the African Development Bank.
The other markets are located in the towns of Lira, Gulu, Mbale, Jinja, and Hoima.