By Nathan Eyagu
SOROTI - After going through a period of more than five days without water and power at the main market, market vendors in Soroti city early this morning protested outside the market thus paralyzing business for more than five hours.
According to some of the vendors who spoke to this website, they have on several occasions raised the issue to their leaders but nothing was done thus making them protest.
‘’We don’t have power neither water, the meat is getting spoiled and our capital is also moving down, when meets doesn’t get done we just have to take it to our homes and smoke it as its more than a week without power and the market leadership keeps on promising us that tomorrow, we shall continue working from outside until water and power is restored back to the market’’, Onyait Gilbert a butcher at the market said.
Oganan Alfred, a butcher at the market also said that they are paying expenses continuously and they have no debts but are left with losses yet they have a number of responsibilities to carry out like paying their children's school fees and others.
After visiting the butcheries and the fish stalls, our reporter was able to see candles and small solar lamps being used for the provision of light.
One of the vendors who runs a textile business in the market who preferred to be anonymous said that she has been out of business as most of her machines use power.
‘’The restaurant section is also dark, customers are not coming through, we shall cook from outside if nothing is done, we can no longer make money’’, a section of women who own restaurant stalls said.
According to Peter Pex Paak the Soroti city RCC,’’ This morning I was informed of an ongoing protest in the market because of water and lack of electricity, I urged those responsible to fix the issues at hand before I reached the market, power was restored back and before me leaving the market, there should also be water in place’’,
He further noted that the reason behind the cause of the power shortage is because of a third party in between the vendors and UMEME, a company called KONLOCK he doesn’t know how it came into existence as vendors pay money to the above company but it doesn’t remit the money to the city council as UMEME bills in the market amount to UGX4m monthly but only remits UGX 1.5m to the city, a move he said is unacceptable.
‘’We are going to have a meeting shortly with that company and if need be, we shall have the vendors directly pay to UMEME and I appeal to the vendors to remain calm as the issues of power and water get restored.
He also added that the water bill in the market is greatly high compared to money remitted to National Water and Sewerage Corporation yet money is available.
‘’Elections in the market that have not been carried out for long will be discussed with the market administration as the issue of rates should be discussed between the city and the market heads’’, he added as the vendors cheered.
By press time, a kilogram of meat was sold at UGX5,000, a situation that brought in a number of customers to the market where the butchers displayed their beef.