Winnie Nabulime, a fruit seller in Kaleerwe market, lies down in her stall for the largest part of the day because the boom months when customers flocked her way are long gone.
In those days, she used to make Shs300, 000 per day. And then construction works along the Kaleerwe market kicked off.
Today, Nabulime makes Shs 6,000 on a good day – an amount that has to be split between her home bills and the expenditures at the workplace. From this, she has to take care of her transport to and from her home in Gayaza as well as buy food for her family, rent, daily tax of Shs 1,500, and lunch at her place of work.
She has slashed the price of her produce drastically – she now sells watermelon at Shs 4,000, down from Shs 7,000 during the boom times. Other traders have resorted to delivering the food to their customers’ homes.
But both strategies do not seem to have improved the situation that much. Nabulime’s plight represents a larger dilemma that traders face as construction along Kaleerwe market drags on.
The construction, carried out by Energoprojekt, has turned Kaleerwe market, arguably the cheapest market in Kampala, a no-go area. The road linking Kaleerwe to Mawanda road was cut off as of late last week.
Questions are now being raised over the competence of Energoprojekt in speeding up works along the busy Kaleerwe market. “They have been working on this small part for about three months now but their efforts are hardly noticed. Everyday, they come and just scratch around,” said Robert Mukalazi, a matooke wholeseller in the market.
As a result, some traders have squared off with Energoprojekt by shifting to the roadside to make whatever little money they can. This has slowed the construction further.
The Uganda National Roads Authority has already warned the traders against violating the boundaries under which they are to carry out their business, according to some reports.
For those who have heeded UNRA’s call, it’s survival for the fittest. Mukalazi, who says most of his colleagues stopped working, will not be paying his brother’s school fees this time round.
“Children are going back to school but I have not saved anything for their school fees. I told my brother whom I pay for in the village that he won’t study this term,” he said.
The construction along Kaleerwe is part of the Gayaza-Zirobwe road, which featured prominently in this financial year’s budget speech. The road is expected to be completed before the end of May.