Traders operating in Kikuubo, Kampala central have cried out to the Minister for Kampala to provide them public toilets and street lighting.
“This place contributes a big chunk to the national economy through taxes but government has failed to provide us with basic services like public toilets and street lights, please, forward our grievances,” said Hajji Mohammed Katimbo, the chairman of Kikuubo traders, in his address to the minister.
This was at a meeting held between the traders and Minister for Kampala Beti Olive Namisango Kamya at the traders’ office at the business center building in Kikuubo on Thursday, October 4th.
The traders complained that while they contribute a lot in taxes, government doesn’t think about them yet other groups like boda boda riders easily get presidential donations. The whole of Kikuubo lane has no single public toilet constructed by government, the traders rely on private toilets in arcades which also close early. The lane also lacks street lights and the only light that helps security guards at night are the small bulbs on traders’ shops.
“We want government to give us money by supporting our SACCOs as Kikuubo traders since our counterparts from Kisekka and Owino markets have got financial support from the state,” said Ben Kanyerezi, the Chairman for Kikuubo elders who also runs a grocery there.
The traders also complained of being over taxed by government which results from wrong assessments. They asked the minister to create harmony between the taxing agencies and the traders’ community to reduce friction.
In her response, Minister Kamya agreed that Kikuubo is the heart of commerce for the country and as such, it should be given priority by Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA).
“According to your chairman, you are over 100,000 people working here and there are some whole districts that don’t have such numbers. Therefore, I will request KCCA to give you special attention in regard to public services,” said Kamya.
Kamya also revealed that KCCA has eight billion shillings and it has agreed that 80% of that money should be injected in community projects so that people feel the impact of the taxes they pay. She also promised to advise Ministry of Finance to have a discussion with the traders to ascertain what taxes should be paid and by who.
“I am going to approach Ministry of Finance and encourage them to have a conversation with you before they levy taxes on you to iron out issues of wrong assessments,” the minister assured traders.
Commenting on the overcrowding in Kikuubo, Kamya said that although KCCA banned street vendors, some traders who own shops also allow petty traders on their verandahs to sell their merchandise and they contribute towards the rent bill. She said she will discuss with KCCA to recognize those petty traders operating on the verandahs of big shops.
Kikuubo Lane is a business hub which accommodates majority of importers that supply goods to the rest of the country. The lane is sandwiched between Ben Kiwanuka and William streets in the central business district of Kampala. It is usually over crowded with business people from all parts of the country during day.