Kampala Capital City Authority – KCCA is running out of space at its stores at the Nakawa Division offices where they keep merchandise and other items confiscated from people operating in ungazetted business or market areas.
The store measuring about 60 by 10 feet is more than half full with other things like wheelbarrows, big umbrellas and Boda Bodas now placed outside in the store compound. Some of the items in the stores include shoes, bags, sauce pans and books taken from street vendors and hawkers.
During a tour by the Executive Director KCCA, Dorothy Kisaka and her deputy Eng. David Luyimbazi at the stores, the store manager Charles Tomusange revealed that owners of confiscated material do not follow up on their merchandise leaving KCCA with the burden to keep them and later dispose them off.
Tomusange who pointed at merchandise that had just been confiscated from at least ten vendors said that only one person is likely to come and claim for their merchandise.
According to section 13 of the Kampala City Council Maintenance Ordinance 2006, it is illegal for a person to ply his or her trade on any pavement, arcade, foot-way, street, un-alienated public land, unoccupied land or land in the possession of the Council without a permit.
The ordinance provides for a penalty of a fine not exceeding two currency points (Shillings 40,000) or to imprisonment not exceeding two months or both.
For a vendor to claim for their merchandise, they are required to prove that they have been cleared by court. Tomusange says that if after six to eight months no one claims for the merchandise, they seek a court order to auction or donate them.
After securing a court order, they then run an advert in the paper and give an extra two weeks to the owners to claim for their merchandise. Asked where the money for auctioning is taken, Tomusange did not answer.
Charles Alimwitu, a vendor in Kampala says his merchandise has been taken more than five times. He says he couldn’t risk following the KCCA law enforcement officials for his merchandise for fear of being arrested. He says that instead of following merchandise at the risk of being arrested too, he chose to go back and plan to get fresh supplies.
Alimwitu sells drinks that he picks from a shop keeper. When his merchandise is taken, he pleads with the shop owner to give him more supplies and he pays slowly to clear for the confiscated merchandise and the new supply.
Emmanuel Kisakye, also a vendor says he has been arrested over five times, taken to City Hall Court and sentenced to two or four months imprisonment. He also made it clear he fears to go claim for his merchandise.
He says that even after leaving prison, he has never attempted to claim for him merchandise. He says, it is not possible to get your merchandise back.
KCCA officials are required to note and mark merchandise depending on the owner but unfortunately, the officials don’t do that. They bundle all confiscated merchandise together saying that they do not have a lot of vehicles to transport the merchandise, arrested vendors and KCCA Officials.