Lira – 18, November, 2016 – If the value of many assurances made by government through her Trade and Industry Minister, Hon. Amelia Kyambade were in good faith and danced to, there would be no turmoil in entire Lango sub-region.
On November 18, 2016, trade minister Kyambade met Lira district [town] disgruntled local traders who had earlier planned to protest against their counterparts – Indian investors over unfair trade policies, among many claims.
The local traders under their umbrella body, Lango Business Community [LBC] headed by Chairperson Godwin Achai, had organized a three day-sit-down protest to express their anger over “Indian influx”. LBC claimed then that these foreign investors had taken up ‘their businesses’ – by going into villages and doing retail trade.
Mr. Achai and his colleagues further accused before the Minister, Mr. Bosco Ogwang Edola, who’s the North and East regional chairperson Chamber of Commerce and Industry of using the body [industry] to protect foreigners and for their personal gain.
The traders, then, in a meeting held at Lira district council hall, in unison told Minister they won’t register with or be part of Chamber of Commerce and Industry Lira branch because they are the very trade body conniving with ‘foreign investors’ to ‘kill’ their businesses.
In her statement cum directives, Amelia Kyambade ordered for immediate investigation on some Indian traders she was told had invaded Lango sub-region, illegally and most notably, those operating in Lira district.
Her directives follow a five hour-heated meeting chaired by Lira Municipality MP, Jimmy James Michael Akena, it was a Friday.
That meeting was also convened by Lira Municipality MP to amend how both local and Indian traders in the district who were then at ‘loggerhead’ as reported by aggrieved local traders.
It was to harmonize good working relationship other than protest and threats by both parties, this author was told then.
“Whereas Uganda is among the East African States extending its operation in terms of trade, industrial portfolio, and exchange with other foreign countries like India, we as government is aware of illegal stay of these Indian traders,” Kyambade said in 2016, in Lira town.
“By 31st December, 2016, all Indian must sort themselves with Ministry of Internal Affair (Immigration Department). Without that, they (Indian investors) will have to leave Uganda,” she strongly ordered, nearly three years, ago.
The Minister directed Immigration department in Lira district to start investigating, arresting and liaising with Kampala offices so that illegal traders are deported forthwith.
In their demand letter to Minister Amelia, LBC ordered Minister Amelia to chase Indian within two weeks or they [local traders] take actions.
However, their demand was quashed there and then by Kyambade who said that was ‘nonsense’.
“Like I said earlier, Uganda needs everybody and it’s why many investors are coming,” she replied.
“My Ministry will never abide by your sectarian demands,” she assured Ugandan local traders of Lira district.
Since then, all that were discussed, promised during 2016 ‘trade meeting’ in Lira by government has not been met, instead, more woes has been registered in recent year and months.
Summarily, these foreign investors [some] have been, arrested, accused and charged with criminal offences by police. A year ago, one urinated on a native who was working with them. T
The nasty incident was reported to Lira Central Police station and police regional headquarters – Erute but soon the case died unannounced and victim could not see justice.
Subsequently, early this year – two Indian senior managers working with Tip Top Bakery in Railways division [industrial area] Lira municipality were accused of smearing red-hot chili powder inside the anus of a causal worker.
They accused the native of stealing a packet of bread known as hot loaf.
As if those were not enough, early November, in Alito sub-county Kole district – two Indian traders are alleged to have killed a young native.
Madmay Gaga, 22 and Vayas Fravay, 27 – all cotton traders are in detention following suspicion that on Friday 9, November, 2018 in Alito sub-county they strangled to death one Dickens Okello, 11.
The innocent boy’s death raised negative concerns, locally, nationally and globally – with many, calling for strict government policies on foreign traders operating in the country.
Accruing from protests in Kole and Lira districts [town], scores of protesters were shot at, admitted at Lira regional referral hospital before government airlifted them to Mulago national hospital.
“With dreams, conviction and to getting amicable solution whilst preventing these foreign investors from getting problems in villages, Lira district council on Friday 23, November, 2018, passed a resolution, stopping foreign traders from going to villages for business.
Will this trade embargo prevail? We must all wait to see.