By Our Reporter
KAMPALA, [SHIFTMEDIA] There is light at the end of the tunnel for thousands of languishing street vendors who were shown exit out of business in Kampala by Government in early 2022.
The former Kampala Resident City Commissioner Hudu Hussein, now transferred to Yumbe effected the orders. Hudu told the hawkers and vendors to find markets where to operate from.
To him the presence of these informal economy workers was depicting an ugly picture of Kampala among other cities in East Africa.
There are hundreds of streets vendors and hawkers in Kampala operating on different streets. But mostly, they are found in the central business district selling food stuffs, utensils, stationary, clothes and shoes among other items.
But Robinah Kagoye the Founder and Executive Director Voices for Labour argues that evicting vendors from the streets won’t solve the impulse. Kagoye who has with other partners filed a petition in the Constitution Court challenging said KCCA has made several attempts to get vendors off the streets but in vain.
“A lasting solution to these informal economy workers needs to be sorted once and for all. Vendors leave and return minutes after law enforcement officers leave, they are humans and need to earn a living too,” said Kagoye.
She was addressing a press conference on Wednesday evening at Hotel Africana in Kampala after digitally filing the petition as a new requirement.
Kagoye said two petitions were filed by Voices for Labour, Platform for Vendors in Uganda (PLAVU), Uganda Market and Allied Employees and Uganda Artisans and General Workers Union through their Lawyers M/s Tuhimbise & Co. Advocates and Kazimoto & Kiwa Advocates have filed two public interest cases in the Constitutional Court of Uganda.
“The first petition seeks to challenge some provisions in the Labour Unions Act No.7 of 2006 that exclude workers in the informal economy from enjoying their freedom to join or form a Labour Union for purposes of representation and collective bargaining. The petition also seeks to challenge certain provisions of the Employment Act No.6 of 2006, Labour (Dispute settlement and arbitration) Act, No.8 of 2006 and the Workers’ compensation is as far they limit certain rights and protections to only employees in a defined employment relationship excluding workers in the informal economy who are in law and practice not sufficiently covered by formal arrangements,” explained Kagoye.
The second petition seeks to challenge the eviction of street vendors without providing them with a viable alternative for their socio-economic survival and or well-being.
It also challenges some provisions of the Trade (Licensing) Act as amended in 2015, the Local government (Kampala City Council) (Maintenance of Law and order ordinance 2006, the Local Governments (Kampala City Council) (Street Traders) ordinance which provides for a requirement of possessing a licence before hawking and street vending but do not provide a clear framework of one acquiring the same and conditions or reasons for being denied the same.
The Petition also challenges the Attorney General for failing to appoint the appeals authority, a structure meant to entertain appeals from street vendors and hawkers who may be unfairly denied licences.
She said Workers in the informal economy find themselves outside formal arrangements and are often on the edge of high vulnerability to poverty, low earnings, irregular incomes, and bad working conditions.
Odaro Stephen Padde the Executive Director Platform for Vendors Uganda in Uganda said 87% of Uganda’s Labour force is in the informal economy and they contribute more than 50%of the GDP yet their interests and rights are not recognized and protected under the law.
Ruth Namuyiga the National Vice Chairperson Uganda Markets and Allied Employees Union accused KCCA of double taxation. “Most vendors have small capitals to the tune of UGX 20,000- 50,000, but when the KCCA enforcement officers arrest them they charged fines of UGX 500,000 way above their capital. Majority opt to go and serve jail sentences in jail,” said Namuyiga.
She said much as government has constructed markets, the vendors are so many to all be accommodated in the market and they also can’t afford the high rental and taxes charged for the market stalls.
The petitioners believe that the fundamental rights and freedom of workers in the informal economy should be protected and their rights as enshrined in the constitution upheld. Workers in the informal economy should be able to access safety nets, access to basic social protection etc.