Massive Extortion Unearthed During ‘Vendors’ Relocation to New Kabale Market

A section of municipal officials and allocation committee heads have been pinned for gross extortion resulting in the mess that marred the relocation of vendors to the new Kabale Central Market.

This came out during investigations by a committee which was instituted last week by Local Government Minister Raphael Magyezi after numerous complaints by the vendors. They accused Mayor Emmanuel Sentaro Byamugisha and Prossy Tuhiriirwe, the Assistant Program Officer in Charge of Community Development of bungling up the relocation exercise.

The vendors said the municipal leaders had allegedly received bribes to allocate stalls and lockups to unknown people, civil servants, and their relatives. During the meeting, Ben Mftimukiza, the Principal Town Agent for Southern Division in Kabale municipality was arrested after vendors accused him of collecting 10,000 Shillings from each of them during the registration process.

Magyezi also ordered the arrest of Kabale Municipality Commercial Officer Fidelis Akankwasa who was accused of allegedly selling lockups and stalls at over five million Shillings each. Akankwasa who is currently on the run was pinned by Stephen Ntunga; one of the complainants who presented documents indicating that he had paid 45 million Shillings to permanently secure three lockups. 

Akankwasa reportedly received the money jointly with Canon Joshua Mutekanga, the chairperson of Kabale Central Market Vendors Association and Ben Mftimukiza. But, according to Kabale Deputy Resident District Commissioner Ronald Bakak, Ntunga who testified that he has never been a vendor, was given fake documents.

Bakak says that a Catholic Priest attached to Kabale Diocese had also testified before his office with documents showing that he paid 30 million Shillings for the purchase of two lockups.

He adds that preliminary investigations have found that all vendors who were under the produce section were not given lockups during the relocation apart from their chairperson. As a result, the affected vendors have resorted to renting from an agent who bought lockups from Mutekanga, Akankwasa, and Mftimukiza.

The agent pockets a commission of 540,000 Shillings per lockup rented, according to investigations by the committee.     

Rev. Fr. Godius Musinguzi, the Director of Radio Maria in Kabale Diocese explains that he paid  30 million Shillings to Akankwasa and was given documents assuring him of getting two lockups in the market.  Fr Musingizi is now seeking a refund after learning that the deal was not genuine.

Mutekanga refutes the accusations as false and urges any complainant implicating him to approach the authorities with concrete evidence.

In 2019, Chong Chong International Construction (CICO), a Chinese Company was contracted to upgrade the 23 billion Shillings modern market under the World Bank-funded Markets and Agricultural Trade Improvement program – MATIP III. It was handed over to the government in December.  

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