KAMPALA – The informal sector business owners in the city have petitioned the Inspector General of Police over constant riots by politicians and want the police protection from such riots.
The group comprising market vendors, taxi operators and traders in the city arcades say they in most cases bear the brunt of the riots, even when they are not participating in the acts.
Speaking to journalists in Kampala on Thursday May 9 before handing over the petition to police, Mr Yasin Ssematimba, the chairperson of Kampala Operational Taxi Stages Association (KOSTA), said that traders want police to gazette areas for politicians to carry out their demonstrations but not in city Centre saying they make a lot of losses whenever protest occur.
Mr. Ssematimba said in walk to work protests of 2011 led by opposition Forum for Democratic Change and its former president Dr. Kizza Besigye traders lost over Shs5b daily.
“In walk to work demonstrations of Kizza Besigye, we lost 5.3 billion shillings on a daily basis, this means we made a lot of losses yet for us we don’t have to support anyone to come to power, our work is to do our business and solve our problems at the same time paying government revenue’’. Mr. Ssematimba said.
In their petition to the IGP, the business community in Kampala want police to eliminate violent political activities in the city center urging that politicians and their supporters who hold protests within the city centers usually turn violate and this affects their businesses negatively.
Traders also want police to gazette areas where protests can be carried out so that their business are not affected or interrupted as it has been.
Mr. Ssematimba said that it’s the role of the government to ensure that the enjoyment of one’s right should not affect the others who equally deserve to enjoy their right.
“It’s, therefore, our appeal to government most especially the police to do the needful and also establish areas where our businesses cannot be affected and guide those intending to protest to such areas to avoid the inconvenience caused to our members’’. He said.
He also said police should establish compensation funds for traders who lose property during the protests.
Traders also asked the police to talk to relevant authorities to protect them from cruel landlords that often unlawfully close their businesses and also increase rent without notifying them.
Mr. Ssematimba said that this usually results into protests which turn violent and affect capital growth. He also challenged the police to stop the use of teargas, rubber bullets and other ammunition to disperse protests saying sometimes it’s uncalled for.
Traders also requested the inspector general of police Martin Ochola to schedule an appointment with president to meet them and discuss with him their challenges.
The director of operations Asuman Mugyenyi who represented the IGP Martin Okoth Ochola expressed gratitude for trader’s calmness while delivering the petition.
He said that some of the requests made by traders are outside police mandate, but they will engage with other concerned authorities like Kampala capital city authority to address all their concerns.
On the political protests, the IGP assured traders that police will continue to enforce the law and apprehend all those who want to disrupt business in the city.
“We assure you that we shall to do our work to deal with all those characters that want to destabilize the city center,” he said.
The IGP asked traders to report such cases of chaos so that police can provide security to them.
“Please join hands with police and other stakeholders to ensure that these negative forces against development are identified in time and information is shared to enable effective and timely management for such plans to protect your interests.’’
He said the issue of compensation fund requires the engagement of other government agencies but promised to forward them to relevant authorities.