Soroti central market vendors want shs1b for “damages, ridicule”
By Jonah Osike
Soroti – 20, October 2021: A group of nine (9) vendors at Soroti central market are seeking for legal redress. They’re moving to sue the city authorities for “breach of contract”.
The matter stems from a concern raised by sub tenants who were renting lockups of those who hired from city council, blaming the allocation committee and the city authorities for allocating spaces to only landlords who built on council land and those who hired from council before construction of the new market at their expense.
George Akojoi, is the lead petitioner who said that in 2016, they, together with many other vendors agreed to vacate their respective shops to pave way for the construction of the new market facility as per the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the then municipal council.
Akojoi adds that under the terms of the said Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), they were to be given first priority to occupy and utilize the completed facility.
However, he attests that in September this year, the city authorities together with the allocation committee commenced the process of allocating vending spaces to all registered vendors.
But to their dismay, other vendors were allocated lock-ups at their expense.
Akojoi further states that on several attempts to settle the matter with the intended defendant, nobody gave them attention prompting them to seek help from courts of law.
“We have tried all our best to settle this matter at a lower level but since no one seems to be willing to listen to our plight, we now intend to drag them to courts of law for redress,” he told TND News.
“We have already approached one “Opio and Company Advocates” but we intend to use about three lawyers such that we handle this matter as quickly as possible,” he reveals.
Through Opio and Company Advocates, the vendors are own demanding that each of them be allocated a lockup within the contests in the MoU.
In default, each of the intending plaintiffs shall demand general damages of UGX100,000,000 together with interests and costs.
According to the petition letter submitted to the intended defendant, the value of the subject matter of the intended suit is likely to be UGX1,000,000,000. This is in compensation for the deprivation, trauma, psychological torture, pain, ridicule and shame that they have suffered in the due course of the matter.
The publication’s attempts to reach both George William Eriebat who is the chairman market vendors and Richard Opiding, the chairman allocation committee for comments have been futile.
However, Damali Asekenye, the Principal Community Development Officer who spearheaded the allocations and shifting process to the new market facility, says that dragging the city authorities to court is a waste of time and resources, but rather advises the vendors to amicably settle the matter with market authorities.
“We successfully handled category one and two which comprise of vendors who built lock-ups on council land and those who hired council built lock-ups and rented them out to sub tenants who are now complaining,” says Asekenye.
“I would like to advise the people who have gone to court to come back and settle this matter with us amicably because the MOU that they are carrying clearly indicates that they were not tenants to council but they also rented from the landlords who hired lock-ups from council. That therefore means, these sub tenants who are running to court will have no evidence to present showing ownership of lockups in the old market,” she adds.
The UGX24billion market was occupied two weeks ago with over one thousand vendors allocated spaces in all the 12 sections available.