By Simon Abaho
Kampala City Teaders Association( KACITA), the umbrella body for Kampala city traders has rallied Kampala city traders and stirred them to hold a peaceful demonstration on 1st September 2021, in compliance with article 29(1)(d) of the 1995 Uganda constitution.
Primarily, the demonstration is against high rent costs and extortionate taxes. Kampala traders under KACITA are disappointed and feel neglected because the government hasn’t intervened in their issue of rent arrears on both occasions of COVID-19 lockdown.
This is leaving them to suffer at the hands of merciless landlords. To add more salt to the wound, the government has enhanced tax costs to rates which traders find extortionate and inconsiderate.
Before the second COVID-19 lockdown, tax costs required to clear one container of garments ranged from Uganda shillings 120 million to Uganda shillings 150 million. Currently, the amount, in taxes, required to clear the same ranges from Uganda shillings 375 million to Uganda shillings 450 million.
This is more than double. Traders in Kampala city have always had disagreements with their respective landlords on issues to do with rent but its high time both parties found a convergence.
The biggest landlords in the city centre such as Drake Lubega, Hamis Kiggundu, Mansour Matovu aka Yanga and others of the like should join forces with Kampala traders their tenants on the issue of extortionate taxes.
When the cost of importation shoots through the roof, the selling price of imported commodities will consequently be abnormally high. Such high selling prices in effect, reduce the amount and rate of sales made per unit time in a day, week and month.
Because of the drastically decreased amount and rate of sales, most traders will be unable to derive rent to pay for their spaces in the city arcades, which will compel many to close business and leave behind empty arcades.
Strikingly high costs of importing also make the cost of starting a business exceedingly high which, in impact, dramatically reduces the number of new people joining business per year. It’s the new entrants in business who should occupy the new buildings being raised by the famous landlords.
Traders who will abandon arcades might forge better means of living outside city centre and those who won’t join businesses that require rent spaces in arcades on account of high costs of starting might find better options, but arcade owners might fail to find serious tenants for their towering arcades because even currently, most arcades, including the old and popular ones such as Qualicel Bus Terminal, Mini Price et cetera, have an occupancy rate below 100%.
Some actually have an occupancy rate which is below 50%.
On 1st September 2021, therefore, it should only make sense when the biggest landlords join disgruntled Kampala traders for a peaceful demonstration.
Drake Lubega, Hamis Kiggundu, Mansour Matovu and others of the category should prepare their placards with well-crafted messages to demonstrate. If they fail to demonstrate, landlords will have ignored a worthy cause.
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