By Allen Kisakye
The streets of Kampala are always busy. Everywhere you turn, one is bound to bump into one of the nearly 4 million day time population, including vendors, beggars and street children among others.
Most of the vendors along all major streets sell simple goodies such as handcrafts, sweets, biscuits, fruits, clothing and other stuff.
Among the several vendors is Ms Jennipher Nakandi who has spent about three years selling handkerchiefs along Kampala Road. The mother of a two-year-old has for several months, like others, had running battles with enforcement officers from Kampala Capital City Authority.
“They would arrest us, and confiscate our merchandise. Most of my colleagues ended up at Luzira (Prison) for even the pettiest of issues,” she told Watchdog on Monday.
Nakandi, who has been arrested once before, however says since the death of ASP Muhammad Kirumira, street vending has thrived and KCCA is now less their worries.
“When Kirumira was mercilessly gunned down, President Museveni went to Luzira Prison and was surprised when a sizable number of the people detained there were street vendors,” she said.
“Most of them told the same story and pinned KCCA law enforcement officers of brutality.”
Nakandi alleges that the President immediately ordered for their immediate release.
“Since then, KCCA has never disturbed us again,” she added.
This is a big relief since she works with her son.
“Then it was never easy. Our colleagues without children would just pick up their goodies and run. I and several other mothers had to carry our children as well as merchandise which was quite challenging,” she divulged.
When asked what her biggest worry was, apart from the enforcement officers, Nakandi says she fears for her son who might pick up not so good habits of the street children yet she always wakes up very early in the morning to prepare a good future for him.
“I would like the government to understand that the only reason why we work on streets is because that is what we can afford. Ideally, we all want to sit in our own shops but we do not have the money. This business requires only Shs50,000 capital which I can afford,” she said.
However, KCCA spokesperson Mr. Peter Kawijju, says KCCA has never stopped doing their job (of running after unlicensed vendors) and that maybe some vendors are just lucky.
“I do not know anything about what the President said while ordering for the release of some vendors who were in Luzira Prison,” but truth is we have never stopped carrying out operations.