By Stephen Kalema

It’s now 17 days since Ugandan leader Yoweri Museveni made his first tour of downtown markets. Then, he met vendors from major markets in the capital, Kampala. He reportedly donated over Shs3bn to the vendors.

In Nakasero Market, donated Shs100million to their general Sacco and promised a further Shs10 million for each of the smaller Saccos.

Now, vendors have come out to say their major problem was never the need for the money but their land titles.

While speaking to Watchdog Uganda, a vendor who preferred anonymity said; “Our prime problem was the issues of land titles. We acquired the land on which the market sits with our money but Kampala Capital City Authority has not given us our land titles.”

In 2006, Kampala City Council under the by then city mayor Nasser Ntege Ssebagala leased Nakasero Market to Sheila Investments, a company owned by business man Hassan Bassajjabalaba. This sparked riots in the market since vendors wanted to run this market by themselves.

In December 2008, the President ordered KCC and Ministry of Local Government to start the process to compensate Sheila Investments. According to KCCA, vendors bought the market land at cost of over Shs1bn. However, KCCA has since not released titles to them.

The market was re-bought through Nakasero Market Vendors and Traders Association Ltd.

“If we did not see what we expected to see on that day (President handing over titles) when shall we ever do?” The vendor asked. “When (KCCA ED) Jennifer Musisi came out to explain the issues regarding the title, she said we made all necessary requirements but she didn’t explain why she was holding the titles.”

About 17,650 vendors operate in the market. They raised the money to buy the land through savings. The walls of the offices of the market leadership are covered with artistic impressions of a new market structure expected to cost them over Shs40bn. But construction cannot begin without the titles.

“Our major hope was the land titles. We thank the President for the empowerment but we need our titles,” another vendor quipped.

Has the money reached their Sacco account?

According to our sources, the money donated to the market Sacco is yet to be received since there is still some paper work to be processed.

“A lot of things must be done by the office of the President. He has sent people here to inspect but the money given to our Sacco is yet to be received,” said one of the vendors on the leadership committee.

Nakasero Market is among the biggest and largest markets in Kampala City central business District. It was established in January 1895 under the advice of Reverend McKay to Kabaka of Buganda to establish the first market in the Lubiri (Palace). In 1905 the Market moved to Kagugube and at the time the market a temporary structure which developed into the current Nakasero market

The market is divided into two areas, one partially covered, where produce is sold, and another located in an attractive old building, where hardware, clothes and even a few tourist items are on sale.