NEBBI. Businesses came to a standstill at Nebbi main market in Nebbi municipality on Friday morning when local guards commonly known as Askaris locked the facility for more than two hours over accumulated wage arrears.

The three locally paid Asikaris were demanding for four months’ pay from Nebbi municipal council authorities. They said the money has now accumulated to a tune of shs80,000 per person.

All the vendors who reported in the morning hours to conduct their normal daily businesses in the market were left stranded at the two gates which were locked by the protesting guards.

Meanwhile other venders resorted to selling their items outside the market until police intervened by arresting the guards.

Mr Ofungi Amos, one of the venders who traveled for 8 kilometers to Nebbi market said his day has already been affected by the protest given that he also lost some time on the way coming.

Mr Stephen Anwang-Kani, the vice chairperson of Nebbi market vendors’ association said vendors were taking the responsibility of the municipal council by paying the locally employed Asikari for years but early this year, the municipality authorities agreed to take over the payment of the guards which they failed to do for the last few months.

“The confusion came in when the council agreed to take over the payment of the Askaris this year. Before they came in with that agreement, vendors were contributing shs2000 per shop to pay the Asikaris monthly,” Anwang-kani said.

He added that the vendors have now refused to contribute for the payment of the Asikaris because they have been asked to pay ground rent and licenses to the municipal council. He said it is the mandate of the council to continue paying the guards not the vendors this time round.

But on contrary, Mr. William Makune Abwooli, the town clerk Nebbi municipal council said the local guards are supposed to be paid by the market vendors themselves, arguing that the council has no mandate to pay them.

Abwooli explained that at the time of the total lockdown, the Asikaris were paid for the two months of July and August 2020 by the council.

He said that doesn’t mean that the council should take full responsibility of paying them anymore.

Meanwhile Mr George Obia, the Nebbi district police commander said the guards were arrested for their unlawful act which would incite violence.

“The guards acted unlawfully by locking the public market place for more than two hours which was contrary to the law, and where an act may result in to violence, police has to intervene,” Obia said.