ARUA. Vendors operating at Kebir market in Kiraab cell, River Oli division in Arua city were on Tuesday morning stranded as police blocked them from accessing the market.
Police officers were deployed at the market on orders of River Oli division officials following a disagreement between the landlord and the division authorities.
Vendors said there was no prior information regarding the matter until when they arrived for their daily businesses only to be stopped from entering the market.
They said this is the market that helps them to derive their daily livelihood so as to manage their home affairs and pay school fees.
“I sell charcoal here to raise my six orphans. If this is how things are, do these people want our children to die?” Zamzam Adam, a widow asked.
“We were not informed of what will happen today. I am really perturbed because this is where we feed. Some of us picked loans as operational capital now I don’t know how we will help in such situations if we are sent away from the market,” Ms Amina Driwaru, another vendor said.
According to the agreement, Oli division is supposed to have been paying Mr Nasur Kafu, the landlord shs1.3million every month which he said has not been done for the six months period that ended in June this year.
Kafu added that he has been complying to the agreement signed with River Oli division, but instead blamed the division authorities for not cooperating with him.
“We had an agreement with river Oli division, in which they are supposed to pay us shs1.3million monthly, which they have not been paying until the six months elapsed. As I talk now, we are instead demanding for the unpaid money from the division,” Mr Kafu said.
However, the two entered into another agreement where management of the market was handed over to the family of the landlord. As part of the agreement, the landlord was to remit shs50,000 on daily basis to the division for garbage management.
According to Ms Shida Zubeda, the senior assistant town clerk of River Oli division, the market has been operating illegally for several years until the division entered into a memorandum of understanding with the landlord to pay the ground rent and take over management of the market.
She argued that River Oli division paid the landlord fully up to June this year when the first agreement period expired.
Zubeda said after entering into another agreement for this financial year, the landlord's family has been breaching the agreement by not paying the shs50,000 meant for garbage management, a reason the division decided to temporarily close the market on the 1st day of December 2020.
Zubeda warned that if the family does not agree with division authorities, the market will be closed and the vendors relocated to legally existing markets in Arua city.