By John Ogulei
The Minister for Local Government has given Soroti City Council Authorities three weeks to sort out the grievances arising out of the allocation of plots in the newly constructed Soroti main Market.
Raphael Magezi gave the ultimatum yesterday 20th October while speaking to Soroti Council Officials headed by the Soroti City Mayor, Joshua Edogu at Plain Country Home Resort in Soroti City.
Recently a group of nine (9) vendors at Soroti central market sued city council authorities for breach of contract.
The matter stems from a concern raised by sub-tenants who were renting lockups blaming the allocation committee and the city authorities for allocating spaces to only landlords who built on council land and those who hired from council before construction of the new market at their expense.
George Akojoi, the lead petitioner in his petition alleges that in 2016, they, together with many other vendors agreed to vacate their respective shops to pave way for the construction of the new market facility as per the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the then Municipal Council.
It must be noted that under the terms of the said Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), they were to be given first priority to occupy and utilize the completed facility.
However in September this year, the city authorities together with the allocation committee commenced the process of allocating vending spaces to all registered vendors.
Minister Magezi directed the officials to handle the matter within three weeks or else those involved will face the wrath of the law.
He said that, no council official must occupy space in the market yet non civil servants who are the rightful beneficiaries are not accommodated.
He challenged Edogu’s team to handle the matter before 15th November.
“There is no way a civil servant should own a stall in the market yet rightful vendors are not given. That’s corruption at its highest. Mayor and your technical team, you have three weeks or I will come back to handle this matter myself,” Magezi warned.
Soroti Main market has over 1300 facilities in terms of lockups and stalls with a capacity to employ over 5000 people directly and indirectly in terms of suppliers of goods, vendors, and others providing auxiliary services like transport.
The facility constructed using a loan from the African Development Bank worth shs23.4 billion will in addition to stalls and lockups have CCTV cameras linked to the Soroti Central Police Station, 500,000 litre water tank, butcheries, chicken cages, cold rooms and service centers: tailoring, pharmacies, financial institutions and small scale value addition units.
The new modern market will also have prayer rooms, restaurants, daycare facilities, meeting rooms, and a Police Post.