Amuru authorities issue fresh ban on makeshift structures at Elegu Border Market

AMURU – Authorities in Amuru district have banned traders at Elegu Border Market from erecting new makeshift structures at the market following a fire outbreak that destroyed properties worth billions of shillings.

The fire which according to reports is the 30th incident since 2013 is estimated to have cost traders Shs 3 billion.

The 2:20am fire reportedly started from a makeshift shop where a trader was frying fish before it spread to other shops destroying merchandise in wholesale shops, drugs shops and produce premises among others.

Michael Lakony, the LCV Chairperson Amuru District said, traders will now be allocated plots on which they will construct permanent buildings instead of makeshift structures which are prone to fire outbreaks.

“We intend to shift the business community out of that place to a regulated area where each trader will be allocated a plot and they will utilize the plot for a longer time,” Lakony said adding that the district has 250 acres of land for that purpose.

The new area in question is 30 meters away from the current market.

“We intend to do it for the safety of traders and their properties. It will be regulated to stop fire outbreaks which have become routine,” he added.

Majority of the business premises in Elegu Border Market are made out of corrugated iron sheets for both the walls and the roof.

However in 2017, Amuru District issued a similar ban after fire destroyed property worth over Shs3 billion.

That ban was never effected as traders quickly rebuilt their makeshift structures and resumed business.

Lakony said that effecting the ban was hindered by several reasons including interference from presidential assistants in the region and non-compliance from traders to vacate the current premises where they were not paying any taxes.

The border town in Amuru district that has more than 2,600 traders mostly from Uganda lies just 100 metres from the South Sudanese border town of Nimule.

Lakony told theCooperator news that this time round, traders will be evicted if they refuse to leave peacefully.

“If they fail to heed to our directives, we will use minimum force to evict them,” he said.

The Chairperson also said they were starting work on the new market location immediately adding that a grader was to start clearing the area while registration of traders for easy allocation of plots had also been commissioned.

On Friday, a team from the committee of finance from Parliament visited the area to assess the damage left by the fire.

Kovuki John Idra-the L.C111 Chairperson Elegu Town Council supports the move saying, Elegu Border Market has been too congested making it difficult for access in case of fire.

“The market has been too congested with no access for vehicles. Our plan of the new market is that there should be access in case of any fire, fire brigade should be able to move and put out fire easily,” Kovuki said.

Okema Michael Opilo, a trader at Elegu Border Market welcomed the initiative but called on the Central government to build permanent buildings there.

“For us as traders, we are interested in doing business in Elegu so government should come out and build for us a proper market,” he said.

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