Fresh fish vendors in Mbarara central market are facing escalating tension as the city council authorities set a deadline for their eviction due to unpaid monthly rental fees. These fish vendors, who typically pay a monthly rental fee of one hundred thousand Shillings, have refused to pay for the past twelve months, arguing that the amount is too high given their low-income status.
Assy Abirebe Tumwesigyire, the Mbarara city clerk stated that negotiations between the council and the fish vendors have failed to yield an agreement, as the vendors demand a reduction in fees, which the council deems unfeasible. Tumwesigyire explained that the council calculated the rental fees based on the expenses required for market maintenance, amounting to Shillings 30 million monthly.
He emphasized that compromising on this position is not an option and non-compliant vendors will be required to vacate the market within one week, with the option to pay all arrears owed to the council or face legal action. In response, the vendors have declared their intention to remain in the market and have warned of peaceful protests.
Justine Natukunda, the Chairperson of the Fish Department in Mbarara Central Market, highlighted their reluctance to pay the high fee of 100,000 Shillings monthly, citing additional expenses such as electricity bills of 300,000 Shillings for freezers, water bills of 22,000 Shillings, and the rent, totaling 422,000 Shillings monthly, which they consider excessive compared to other vendors.