Gulu Market Vendors Locked In Bitter Fight

GULU – The fast sprouting street markets in Gulu city have teed up a fierce battle between vendors in Gulu main market and roadside traders.

Vendors in the main market are looking to tighten their grip on their trade by locking out the fast sprouting street markets that are fiercely eating into their clientele.

Gulu Main Market Vendors’ Cooperative Savings and Credit Society has asked Gulu city council leaders to stop the mushrooming street markets in the city.

Since Gulu became a city last July, there has been a meteoric rise in street vending of clothes, shoes, and foodstuffs on roads and highways.

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Christine Ajo, a vegetable trader in the main market, told theCooperator in an interview recently that she hardly sells anything in the evening because street vendors take over all the streets and roads.

“Evening is one of the peak hours for our sales; it is the time the working class buys things before heading home. But all those clients are taken away by the road-side sellers,” Ajok said.

Pamela Akumu, who sells second-hand clothes in the main market, said street vending and the poor location of her stall have diminished her business in the last eight months.

Akumu said before Gulu municipality became a city, her clients would walk all the way to her stall but now they go for the cheap clothes sold along the road.

Patrick Omaya, the chairperson of the vendors’ SACCO, said street markets have undercut them yet they pay all dues levied by the city council.

“When we go to Kampala, there are some shoes we buy at Shs 10,000 and sell here at Shs 15,000. But when you go to these street markets, you find such shoes being sold at Shs 8,000, so you wonder, where do they buy their stock from? Are those not stolen goods?” Omaya asked.

There are 22 gazetted markets within Gulu city. Omaya appealed to city council leaders to ensure that all street vendors are absorbed in those markets.

“These gazetted markets within the city still have space; they should be well furnished so that the sellers enter them. Some markets have no latrines, others have no dumping space. For instance, Highland Market has a dumping space right in the middle of the market, which is a health hazard because the rubbish takes long to be disposed of,” Omaya said.

Santo Obura, the Vice Secretary of Gulu Market Vendors SACCO, said the city council leadership has failed to handle the matter.

“Street vending is affecting us because clients prefer street shopping, leaving us market vendors with very few clients. We need freedom of biashara in the markets, not on the streets,” Obura said.

Gulu City Mayor, Alfred Okwonga couldn’t be reached for comment.

Gulu Market Vendors SACCO was registered in 2019 and has more than 2,000 members.

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