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Kampala Beautification Projects Anger Local Workers

FILE - In an earlier tax protest, vendors sell used shoes on the street outside their shops in Kampala, Uganda, June 28, 2013.

Kampala officials have repaired more than 150 kilometers of road, doubled trash collection, improved drainage and revived social services, but when trying to crack down unregulated trade, they have faced considerable pushback.

Informal street vendors and market stands make up the majority of trade in Kampala. Yet the Kampala Capital City Authority has deemed such business activity "illegal" and has asked vendors to relocate to the trading centers the authority is setting up.

Failure to do so can result in fines, confiscation of goods and jail time.

Peter Kaujju, KCCA communications manager, said vendors prefer street locations because "they make these big sales and they are not remitting any money anywhere in terms of fees. ... We say, 'Yes, you say you’ve been here for the last 15 years, but you have been doing the wrong thing."

However vendors say these trading centers are few, and while they’re being built, they must make a living. Two roadside vendors who did not want to give their names described their run-ins with the KCCA.

“The KCCA, what it’s trying to do is make sure that the city is in order," one vendor said. "But the way it is doing it, we are not agreeing. Because it is using much force and evicting whoever it finds along the road without giving direction where to go."

“And nobody is there to fight against KCCA," the second man said, "just KCCA that is willing to fight against us.”

Part of the anger involves Kampala’s high unemployment rate. Informal marketplaces give workers a chance to earn a living. However, the KCCA contends that because these vendors are not paying taxes, they are not contributing to the city’s development and will continue to face eviction and jail time for breaking the law.