Angry central market vendors storm council officials over UMEME power disconnection
A section of Vendors from Mbarara Central market have today stormed the offices of Mbarara City South Division protesting against negligence by the City Authorities over failure to pay UMEME bills in the facility.
According to information, the market facility has been in the darkness for some days after Mbarara City Council failed to pay UMEME bills. This prompted vendors led by their leaders to protest by blocking some roads like Buremba road, one of the busiest roads in the City.
They also stormed the offices of the Division Mayor and the Town Clerk seeking for an explanation why they have failed to pay UMEME bills yet they collect money from the vendors for such services.
Emmanuel Muhumuza, the Central market Vendors Chairman said that the matter has not only started today, central market has experienced this shortage ever since they entered this market. He said that UMEME has been cutting off power and yet vendors have tried to pay their monthly charges in time.
“When we engaged with these council Officials sometime back mainly the City Town Clerk Assy Abirebe, the City Mayor Robert Mugabe Kakyebezi, we agreed that let that money from vendors be always paid in time so that we don’t allow UMEME to cut off the power in the market because we are operating in a stoled building. Whenever power goes off, the facility turns dark and nothing can transact in this place because of darkness. And this matter has been on the table of these officials but nothing had yielded any positive results from them until today morning when I was going to open my shop and vendors invaded me saying, no, Chairman we are not going to allow you open this market until our issues are addressed” said Muhumuza, the Market Chairman.
When Vendors protested, Officials from the the City Council in conjunction with the Division Leadership panicked and immediately paid some UMEME bills to ensure there is power in the market for the businesses to resume.
Aminah Naluyima, Senior Communications Officer Mbarara City said that what has happened in the Central Market about UMEME, as council they are committed and ready to ensure that this incident does not happen again.
Didas Muhanguzi, the Mbarara City South Division Town Clerk said that there was a systematic error where they thought money had gone through to UMEME when actually they had not received it. And when the money bounces it takes time for that error to be rectified, so that’s what exactly happened in the delays of paying the power.
He however said that some of the vendors have not paid their rent charges and this is the money which the council uses to provide some services like utilities in the market.
“I want to tell you that the moment we continue getting those people who are not paying, then this problem is going to persist because there is no where council will get money to pay or meet these obligations. The caution should go to those people that do not pay including the Fish vendors who have never paid even a single coin since they entered this market yet they are the ones consuming a lot.
When these people continue consuming free services they antagonize and disrupt the services for the people who are genuinely paying their money” said Muhamguzi.