By AL-MAHDI SSENKABIRWA & DEAR JEAN (The Daily Monitor)
As Police conduct investigations into the Wednesday morning fire that razed the Nakivubo Park Park-Yard Market, The Nakivubo Stadium management has offered crucial leads, claiming that the inferno could have been started by some traders who had failed to pay off debts.
Addressing an impromptu media briefing in Kampala yesterday, Ms Minsa Kabanda, the treasurer Nakivubo Stadium Board of Trustees, said two months ago, unknown people circulated flyers threatening to burn the market, a matter that was reported to Owino Police Station.
“Our team reported the matter to Owino Police Station but surprisingly they never took it seriously,” she said.
In the media briefing, Ms Kabanda claimed they had been receiving several stories and concerns from traders about intentions of some individuals who were planning to burn the market.
No individual was named, but Ms Kabanda alleged that some traders who had secured loans after the previous two fires to recuperate their businesses, could be behind the inferno after they failed to pay back.
“We sympathise with majority of the vendors who are suffering because of the market politics. We have relatives working there who tell us shocking stories. Some traders after they have failed to pay the loans, they set the market on fire thinking it would be a solution to their problems,” she said.
She dismissed as baseless reports that the stadium’s management had a hand in torching the market since it sits in front of a perimeter complex that is being constructed by the Nakivubo Stadium management.
Fire on Wednesday morning gutted the Park–Yard Market which is an extension of St Balikuddembe Market also know as Owino.
The fire destroyed property worth millions of shillings, but its cause is yet to be established. The fire broke out at about 3am and took police more than five hours to put it out.
Nakivubo Stadium owns the land, which houses the market and has been collecting at least Shs25 million in monthly dues.
Each trader owning a stall at the market pays Shs23,000 on a monthly basis to the Nakivubo Stadium management.
When asked about the case that Ms Kabanda claimed to have reported, Kampala Metropolitan Police Commander, Andrew Kaweesi dismissed the allegations, describing them as “sheer nonsense.”
“Police has never received any such reports and those allegations are uncalled for,” he told the Daily Monitor on phone.
Mr Godfrey Mabiriizi, the chairperson of Nakivubo Stadium Board of Trustees, said they had petitioned Kampala Capital City Authority to gazette the Park–Yard as a permanent city market, saying putting up new structures which are not on plan will expose traders to more dangers.
Recently, KCCA communicated to Nakivubo Stadium management telling them that Park-Yard was an illegal market and traders needed to relocate to other gazetted markets.