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Only KCCA Can Establish Markets In Kampala- Attorney General

Wandegeya Market

Only Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA) is mandated to establish a market in the city, according to the office of the Attorney General. This is contained in his response to the KCCA Market Ordinance, which was approved in 2019 to provide a comprehensive licensing regime for permanent, semi-permanent and temporary markets.  

It also provides for the harmonization of the market dues and provides a process through, which market leaders can be elected for a specific term to avoid wrangles arising mainly from poor leadership. Following the approval of the ordinance, KCCA forwarded it to the office of the Attorney General through the Minister for Kampala and Metropolitan Affairs for perusal.

The Attorney General is mandated to clear any laws to ensure they are in harmony with existing laws. On Wednesday, Doreen Nyanjura, the Deputy Lord Mayor and head of government business in KCCA told council that the attorney general had proposed some Amendments to the ordinance.

In his recommendations, the Attorney General advises that the words private and public Markets be replaced with markets to mean those established by the Authority.  He argues that the inclusion of private markets in the ordinance contravene section 1 of the Market Act of 1942, which provides that no person or authority other than the administration of a district, Municipal Council, town council shall establish or maintain a market.

This means that private markets in Kampala exist illegally, which can’t be regulated by KCCA. However, Nyanjura told Council that they cannot pretend that there are only public Markets in Kampala. According to information from KCCA, there are 16 government Markets in the city and 68 private owned Markets.   Nyanjura proposed that KCCA enters into Public-Private Partnerships with private Market owners or signs a Memorandum of Understanding such that the markets such that they are managed by the Authority.

Previously, Private entities acquired licenses from the City Authority in line with the Local Governments (KCC) Market Ordinance 2006 to establish markets. However, the Ordinance was repealed by KCCA and replaced with the 2019 Market Ordinance. Bob Kwanza, one of the legal officers in KCCA concurs with the Attorney General’s opinion, saying by law private markets do not exist and hence cannot be regulated by KCCA.  

He says that KCCA cannot purport to establish them through a Public-Private Partnership or Memorandum of Understanding with private owners because they operate outside the law. Kwanza advised KCCA to regulate public markets as they push for Amendments to 1942 Act to provide for the establishment of Private Markets.

The recommendations from the Attorney General generated debate in the council as members contemplated how to deal with Private Markets if the law doesn’t recognize them. They wondered if the Attorney General would then advise that all Private Markets be abolished because they exist outside the law.

Councillors fear that keeping the ordinance until the Act is amended to recognise Private Markets might take long. Some members suggested that KCCA ignore the attorney general’s advice calling it unrealistic while others agreed to make amendments and seek further guidance on how to handle private markets.

The Kawempe South Woman Councilor, Zamin Masunge, said KCCA should consult with Private Market owners regarding the matter. She said if KCCA passes an an ordinance that recognizes only Public Markets that could mean the end of Private markets and hence affect a large number of people in Private Markets.

The council resolved to refer the matter to the Steering committee of Gender and Legal Affairs to discuss the way forward. The delayed implementation of the Market Ordinance affects KCCA’s plans to streamline activities in the markets in Kampala. The long standing power and ownership struggles are bound to continue if there is no legal framework for KCCA to regulate the markets.

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