Lira produce dealers shut entire shops “for weeks or months”

Shops are closed for weeks or even months according to some traders. Phot by Frank Oyugi

Lira—12, June 2020: Lira Produce Lane has finally been closed by produce dealers who have been protesting an abrupt relocation plan by the Lira Municipal authorities. Lira Municipality are demanding that the foodstuffs traders move to Railway division—North East of Lira Town.

Their new trading home is part of the land of a defunct Lira airfield.

Last week, Lira municipal council authorities, among them Lira Mayor, Mike Ogwang Olwa Veve decided that the produce dealers be removed from their current location on Awangamola road [Central Division] with a claim that there was overcrowding which contravenes social distancing and other measure to mitigate the mass spread of Coronavirus.

Prior, Lira [district] had already confirmed one community infection of Covid-19 from Burlobo, Adekokwok sub-county. TND News has learnt that the patient is being treated at Mulago National Referral Hospital and ‘already in good shape’.

The chairperson of the produce dealers, Mr Patrick Ogwal has welcomed the idea of relocating colleague produce businessmen and women to Railway Division but he has met staggering resistance from the people and businesses he leads.

The produce dealers say Railway Division is “very far away from town” besides, they added: “it lacks facilities to facilitate our businesses.” This statement has been denied repeatedly by Lira Municipality Mayor, Mr Mike Ogwang Olwa Veve.

TND News however understands that there was an order from the army last evening demanding Lira Municipal Council authorities to relocate the produce dealers within a record time of 24hrs or close shops immediately.

But the traders reacted by announcing a protest and closing all their produce stores from Friday [today] till Sunday. Other traders say they don’t mind keeping their shops shut for “many weeks, or even months”.  

Mrs Anna Okwir Bung, a produce dealer told the media that they are equally concerned about the overcrowding at Lira Produce Lane and blamed it on the return of small-medium scale produce dealers who were initially moved to Lira Bus Park. She adds that these traders have come back after the resumption of public transport.

Erute South MP, Hon. Jonathan Odur, speaking this [Friday] afternoon, condemned the closure of Produce Lane and asked the produce dealers to open their stores.

The MP also lambasted Lira Municipal Authorities for acting arbitrarily under the guise of enforcing Covid-19 measures. He added that even markets in Kampala are not observing social distancing.

TND News’ Frank Oyugi visited Lira Produce Lane Friday afternoon and found pockets of women seated and chit-chating, but their stores remained closed.

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