In a pivotal moment for Kampala’s business community, city traders have resolutely declined a request from State Minister for Kampala City and Metropolitan Affairs, Hon. Christopher Kyofatogabye, to resume operations prior to their scheduled audience with President Yoweri Museveni. 

With over 100 traders poised to convene with the President on April 19th, the stage is set for a critical dialogue addressing the vexing issues of taxes and policies that have precipitated the widespread closure of businesses nationwide.

The atmosphere was charged as Mr. Kyofatogabye sought to rally traders during an address in Kampala on April 17th. Assuring them of President Museveni’s consent for the meeting, the minister implored traders to reconsider their stance and reopen their shops.

However, his pleas fell on deaf ears as traders stood firm, emphasizing the need to await the outcomes of the impending meeting before making any substantive decisions.

“The President is willing to meet you, and those who will be part of the meeting should go to Mulago National Referral Hospital for COVID tests. We have also waived the penalties on your containers. Those who want to go to URA and pick up their containers, I am your referee. I also request that you reopen your shops; let us go to work,” urged Mr. Kyofatogabye.

Despite the minister’s assurances and promises to address their grievances, including the release of detained leaders and the clearance of containers held at URA, traders remained resolute in their determination to keep their shops shuttered until concrete resolutions are reached.

“Opening shops before knowing what will come out of the meeting is unrealistic. We are going to patiently wait for the recommendations of the meeting before taking such a decision. For now, shops will remain closed,” remarked Mr. Sulaiman Lumu, a trader, encapsulating the prevailing sentiment among his peers.

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Mr. John Kabanda, President of the Federation of Uganda Traders Association, echoed the sentiments of numerous traders who opposed the minister’s request, expressing apprehension that their concerns might not be adequately addressed if they resumed operations prematurely.

“When we resume work, they may not treat our concern. It might not be addressed,” cautioned Mr. Kabanda, reflecting the deep-seated skepticism among traders regarding the efficacy of government interventions.

The leadership of the traders, represented by Mr. Musoke Nagenda, Chairperson of Kampala City Traders Association (KACITA), clarified that while they had been urged by the government to persuade traders to halt the ongoing strike, they lacked the mandate to influence the demonstrations. 

Emphasizing the imperative of comprehensive dialogue to address the economic challenges facing traders, Mr. Nagenda underscored the need for a holistic approach to finding sustainable solutions.

“We thought this meeting could harmonize between the traders and the government. Because we, as the leaders of traders in the business community, we have been requested by the government to talk to our traders to see that they can accept to stop the demonstration and continue operating as usual,” explained Mr. Nagenda, shedding light on the intricacies of the ongoing negotiations.

Amidst mounting concerns about alleged harassment and solicitation for bribes by URA officials and the encroachment of retail investors on traditional traders’ livelihoods, Mr. Kyofatogabye sought to assuage fears by assuring that these issues would be squarely addressed by the President during the forthcoming meeting, underscoring the high stakes involved in the dialogue between traders and government stakeholders.

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The post Traders in Kampala Stand Firm Against Minister’s Call to Reopen Shops Ahead of Anticipated Presidential Meeting appeared first on Watchdog Uganda.

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