The Minister for local government, Raphael Magezi, has called upon the Arua City Council to address the allocation and resettlement issues in the Arua Central main market.
This directive comes in response to an investigative report from the office of the Resident City Commissioner, which revealed that due processes were not followed in the market allocation.
Arua Central market, one of the twelve urban markets constructed under MATIP 2, was completed in February 2021. However, an allocation exercise and resettlement of vendors took place on January 24, 2022, raising concerns.
A total of 782 stalls and 9 lockups remained unoccupied while vendors continued trading outside the market and on city streets. Some technical and political leaders were accused of allocating spaces to themselves, vendors were given lock-ups without MOUs, and some had rented out their stalls at exorbitant fees.
In 2022, Minister Raphael Magezi ordered an investigation during his visit to Arua City, leading to the recent report indicating that technical officers owned stalls, some vendors had more than one stall, and others had sublet their spaces.
Magezi has directed the Arua City Council and the town clerk to reconstitute an allocation committee to ensure unoccupied stalls and lock-ups are allocated to the rightful owners emphasizing the need to restore trade order in Arua City
“Once we allocate the stalls and lockups, we will not have these street vendors; we want to restore trade order in Arua City.” He stated.
The engagement at Arua City Hall, the minister also addressed allegations of his involvement in land grabbing scandals surrounding a piece of land owned by Arua District local government.
“I own land. If there is any land you want to give me, it’s welcome, but don’t blackmail me. I know people here want to intimidate me and get me off my work. Please let me do my work because I know how to do it.” Magezi responded.
The ministry of local government was urged to address the ongoing conflict between the city and the district. Leaders requested the relocation of Arua district headquarters away from the city to create more office space for city administration and enhance service delivery.
Concerns were also raised about the delay in sharing assets between the city and the district, including road equipment, office furniture, motor vehicles, and land.
In response, Minister Magezi noted,
“Don’t advise me on section 188; I know what it says, and I have the letter of the Attorney General. He has advised me, but at the end of the day, I take personal responsibility. If I make a mistake in this, I can’t say it was the Attorney General. For him, he’s an adviser.”
The situation remains under scrutiny as Arua City works to rectify market allocation issues and resolve tensions between the city and the district.