The allocation of lockups to vendors at Soroti Main Market was marred by several irregularities according to an investigation report released by Soroti Resident City Commissioner-RCC Robert Adiama.
The investigation was conducted amidst disagreements between city authorities and market vendors, with many of them refusing to take up lockups allocated to them. The disagreement has also affected the planned relocation of vendors from the temporal market along Serere road to the newly constructed main market.
Francis Onyait, one of the market vendors says the city authorities have reserved all the lockups on the ground floor for unknown people and piled vendors in the upper floors. Onyait explains that the Memorandum of Understanding between Soroti Municipal Council then and the vendors gave priority to landlords, their tenants, people operating businesses and those whose leases could have expired by the time of market construction.
He however notes that in the allocation plan, none of the four categories was considered in their previous business areas but instead, new faces emerged in the market.
Now, Robert Adiama says that the investigation has established how some individuals have allocated themselves up to five plots while others bought their way into the market. Without divulging details, Adiama noted that the detailed report would be shared with the officials from the Ministry of Local Government who are expected in Soroti this Friday.
Moses Otimong, the acting city clerk of Soroti agrees that some people who were not registered at first have shown interest in the market but notes that they have vetted and came up with a clean list. According to Otimong, more than 2,000 people had shown interest but the committee vetted them out.
But while appearing for a talk show on one of the radio stations in Soroti, Moses Attan Okia, the Soroti City East MP faulted officials in the city for playing double standards in the allocation of lockups to the vendors in the new market. Attan noted that the situation in the market could cost Soroti City Council especially if vendors ran to court over breach of contract.
The 24 billion Shillings market was constructed with funding from the African Development Bank and commissioned by President Yoweri Museveni in November last year. It was expected to commence operations in March after 1,316 vendors were reported to have been vetted but the process has dragged on.