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Cloth traders hold Busia mayor hostage, demand for lockups

Business grounded to a halt at Busia Municipal council offices on Monday when more than 50 cloth traders held the mayor, Hassan Bwire Opio hostage for almost three hours demanding that the authorities allocate them lockups in the newly built Busia market. 

It came after the traders rejected the space allocated to them in the market, saying it is unfit for their business. According to the traders, the stalls allocated to them in the market are 3 by 5 (3×5) feet, which is too small for their business. They want lockups or else the contractor be directed to break the stalls and enlarge them at least 8 by 8 (8X8) or 10×10 feet to avail enough space to operate from. 

Newly built Busia market
Newly built Busia market

Zainab Kamba, Rajab Ojambo and Masitula Birabwa are some of the disgruntled cloth traders. They argue that they are not ready to operate in the small stalls provided in the market. They accuse the municipality of failing to direct the contractor to construct, according to the design they presented during the consultations. 

Masitula Biribawa, said that they have been so obedient to the extent of working in temporary markets where their businesses are not secure.   

Idi Kibaki Muhammad, the Western division  LC 3 chairperson in Busia Municipality says that the section allocated to the cloth traders isn’t suitable for their business, arguing that they should be allocated alternative space. 

Hassan Bwire Opio, the Mayor Busia town, says the problem was caused by some leaders who didn’t give clear information during the redevelopment of the market. He explained that they don’t any alternative space to allocate the traders because they cannot t break the stalls.  

Vincent Okurut, the Busia town clerk says that they are waiting for the contractor to hand over the market to the municipality so as to address the arising matters.  He says there is need to sensitise the traders fully because they can’t change anything in the market.

President Yoweri Tibuaburwa Museveni commissioned the Shillings 25billion Busia modern market in December last year during his 2021 presidential campaigns in the area. ZHONGAO-ZHONGHEN joint venture undertook the construction works with funding from the African development bank under the market and agricultural trade improvement program project 2-(MATIP-2). 

The market is designed to accommodate 2044 traders.