Small scale business owners in Kikoni in Makerere University have suffered reduced sales, with many planning to shift to other places. The traders claim they have been making losses, and cannot continue paying rent and not making money.
Enock Bongole owns a boutique dealing in all kinds of second-hand clothes. He told journalism@mak that he was making over 50,000 shillings profits per day in the past semesters, but this has reduced to about 20,000 shillings per day this semester.
"This semester is so dry; other colleagues of mine moved on to look for better busy places. I am also planning to leave this place and shift to Matugga because I cannot operate in losses yet I pay rent for this business. I cannot put up with this huge reduction of my profits," he said.
Business owners had expected to experience huge sales just as the case has been in the recent semesters and stocked goods in plenty, but to their surprise the turn up has been very low. Kikoni being a leading area of residence for most Makerere University students, has attracted a number of investments especially those dealing in food, shoes, clothes, beauty salons and cosmetics due to the expected ready market.
Just like Bongole, many other operating business in Kikoni cannot escape the costs of running business.
"We can cope with the high costs of rent if we have a reliable turn up of customers but not like this," Ronnie Lubega, another trader said.
Lubega, who owns a beauty salon in Kikoni with pedicure, manicure and offers other beauty services to students adds that students are poor this semester.
"It seems this semester students are broke compared to the previous semesters. This salon you see here used to have customers and most of them were students but now look, it is empty," Lubega said.
He adds "I used to work on customers 24 hours plaiting hair, doing cosmetic services and massaging many but as per now, I receive a few of them a day. I don't see the reason as to why I continue operating within Kikoni therefore I have decided to shift to Ntinda and next semester I am no more in Kikoni".
Doreen Ayebare who deals in grocery and owns a restaurant selling local foods narrates how this semester has made her fall in losses, saying that the food she cooks usually remains and is poured. "I cook food and wait for customers for a whole day but unfortunately they don't buy. Those who used to be my daily customers were Makerere students but nowadays I see them sloping down to look for "kikomando" (mixture of chapatti and beans) which is cheaper compared to the food I sell," Ayebare explained.
Ayebare has also vowed to move to Wandegeya market where she hopes to make more money next semester.
Students we talked to have attributed the low turn up to the economic crisis that is hitting the entire country and the increased prices of commodities.
Mutaawe Dan Bosco, a second-year student of Makerere University, points out poverty in the entire country.
"Wyou see today is beyond the students' control but rather a national economic crisis arising from a number of reasons. The outcry entails every member of the society," he says.
Josephine Ashaba, a third-year student residing in Kikoni says that the issue is not poverty among students, but the increasing number of businesses dealing in similar commodities in the area.
"We are not poor, just look and see everywhere shoes, chapattis; you can even fail to count the boutiques and salons in this area! This indicates that there is no poverty among students but these businesses are very many yet they sell the same commodities to us," Ashaba said.