A number of traders have been blocked from accessing shops in arcades around Kampala as landlords demand rent arrears.
Many of the traders were locked out of the buildings in June when President Yoweri Museveni announced a 42-day lockdown to help the country deal with a new wave of COVID-19. At the time, hospitals were overwhelmed as infection and death rates skyrocketed. And as a measure to keep the disease at bay, the President announced the closure of arcades, schools, churches and other congregational places.
At the time, many of the traders were not given chance to remove their merchandise from the outlets, as landlords kept them under lock and key. But as the President lifted the lockdown last week, landlords added additional padlocks for those with rent arrears denying them access to the shops.
Now Mahad Yiga, a tenant at Maria’s Galleria says his landlord has asked him for arrears from June, when the shops were closed to the end of July 2021, a period when traders could not access the building.
Hanifah Kyeyune and Josephine Ssali, both traders at Qualicell Bus Terminal said that the management of the building did not offer them any explanation on the closure of their shops despite the lifting of the lockdown. They say that while they were looking forward to the reopening, they instead found additional padlocks on their shops.
Drake Lubega, one of the landlords told URN in a phone interview that many of the tenants had not paid their rent obligations since May, but hastens to add that the issues are being resolved on a case by case basis.
However, Godfrey Kirumira, the chairperson of the arcade owner’s association said he was not aware of the developments. Similarly, Thadeus Musoke, the General Secretary of Kampala City Traders Association [KACITA] said that they are yet to engage the landlords on the same.
Tenants at Ham Shopping mall and White House in Kikuubo said that their landlords had already waived rent arrears for the two months when they were not in business.