Kampala Capital City Authority-KCCA law enforcement officers are on the spot for extorting money from hawkers in exchange for their confiscated merchandise.
The officers often arrest vendors and hawkers found illegally selling merchandise on the streets of Kampala. They also confiscate their merchandise and in turn solicit bribes before they can return the items to the vendors.
Mugisha, a hawker dealing in soft drinks says that the KCCA law enforcement officers have confiscated his merchandise several times and asked for bribes. Mugisha says he pleaded with the officers to return his merchandise but in vain. Instead, they asked for 10,000 Shillings which he could not afford.
Another vendor who deals in Silverfish and vegetables says the KCCA law enforcement officials have made it a habit to solicit bribes. She says when KCCA officials confiscate vegetables, fruits or drinks, they usually demand 5,000 Shillings.
Another vendor identified only as Katumba says that chances are slim for the officers to return their merchandise without asking for a bribe. He adds that the chances of recovering the merchandise after it has been taken to KCCA’s central store at the Nakawa Division offices is next to none.
“If you miss getting your things before they leave, or at the offices in town and they end up taking them to Nakawa, there is less chance that you’ll get them back. Instead of Shillings 50,000, you’ll end up paying at least Shillings 200,000” explained Katumba.
When the merchandise is confiscated, it is first taken to KCCA offices in the New Taxi Park or the Kampala Central Division offices at William Street. At the New Taxi Park offices, URN reporter saw more than 10 impounded motorcycles. Owners of the motorcycles were seen negotiating with the enforcement officers to have the motorcycles returns.
Ismail Mubiru, the Chairman Fuba Tukola Hawkers and Vendors Association Limited, says KCCA needs to expedite the Street Vendors and Hawkers Ordinance.
The ordinance proposed in 2019 introduces a license to be paid by street vendors and hawkers and defines their areas of operation. According to Mubiru, the ordinance will bring to an end running battles between the hawkers and the enforcement officers.
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, unoccupied land or land in the possession of the Council without a permit.
The ordinance provides for a fine not exceeding two currency points (Shillings 40,000) or imprisonment not exceeding two months or both.