The government has defended the forceful eviction of an estimated 4000 traders that had occupied Nakivubo Stadium’s Parking Yard for over ten years. But the police and the government have been criticized not only for causing loss of millions of money in property, but also in rendering thousands of people jobless during a period of economic hardships.
The Minister for Kampala Betti Namisango Kamya told Parliament on Wednesday that the vendors had occupied Park Yard illegally.
Kamya said: “If a country needs over 20years to make decision to evict 4,000 people to develop 1.5 acres, we have a long way to go.”
Kamya said that the developer, Hamis Kiggundu, popularly known as Ham offered a number of alternatives to the vendors including cash and free space on his Ham shopping mall opposite former Park Yard as well as in Usafi market.
In the aftermath of the eviction, The Sunrise visited the top flour of Ham shopping mall where hundreds of people had accepted to be relocated. Our reporters found chaotic conditions characterized by make-shift structures patched on top of the building. The new temporary structures however, mirrored almost similar conditions of congestion and chaos minus mud that they had left.
But perhaps the biggest concern for most of the vendors is that the expulsions will mean the loss of livelihoods for thousands of people who used to directly work in the market, but also for those that depended on them including schools, taxi drivers and many others.
Madina Nakiboneka, one of the affected vendors who used to sell second hand bed sheets complained that although she was not opposed to development of the city, they had not been given enough time to plan their relocation.
She blamed MP Beti Kamya for her suffering: “Beti Kamya, should have called us for a meeting and informed us about everything, and as a Minister of Kampala city, she would have told us where to go instead of just pushing us away.”
It is not the first time Ham is being given a piece of the market for redevelopment. The government allocated the part outside Nakivubo stadium for erection of a shopping mall.
This was part of bigger plan Ham presented to KCCA officials that included redevelopment of the stadium. Hardly three years since Ham touched the task of developing Nakivubo stadium, than he has started on building a commercial block, exposing him as a lier.
Indeed the manner in which Police and Minister Kamya supported the evictions, has left many wondering whether Ham, who was recently reported to be suffering under the weight of colossal debts, may have raised money to embark on another major redevelopment.
Fate of sport overshadowed
While the conflict over Park Yard may have taken a political twist, it has largely overshadowed a much bigger scandal about the neglect of sport and its potential to create employment for thousands and possibly millions of young people in Uganda.
Around Kampala, the government has allocated sports facilities for schools for turning into shopping malls and arcades at the expense of sports.
In the final analysis, however the award of space to Ham for a shopping mall may inflict temporary pain to the former occupants of Park Yard. But experience from Ham’s development shows his development brought some decency in many people’s businesses.