Traders cry foul as darkness engulfs Iganga municipality
By Sooma Frederick
Monica Kyakuwaire trudges from home every evening to sell sweet bananas in an evening roadside market commonly referred to as ‘kayola’ which operates along Saaza Road in Iganga Town.
Kyakuwaire says she has done this for the last 12 years but the darkness that characterizes the Iganga streets is threatening her only source of livelihood.
“Am aware that this candle illumination causes ailment, but I have no option but to carry it because without it I can’t operate my business, “ the mother of four says.
Kyakuwaire always carries along a candle and a match box as she comes to ply her trade.
Her plight is similar to that of hundreds of others who use candles to ply their trade in a town of darkness.
Hajj Abudu Kasiko, a trader, says they close their shops as early as 9pm because of darkness and yet they could make more money by stretching up to midnight.
Nakigude Sumini runs a chips stall on Kaliro road. She, however, says she regularly incurs the costs of buying the paraffin or batteries for her torch.
Kayoola and Kaliro evening road markets alone attract close to 20,000 venders selling a range of merchandise and raw food stuff. Each vender pays between Shs200 and 300 daily to the municipal council authorities but the market lifespan is cut short due to lack of road lights.
As you walk through the town in the evening, you are welcomed by a factory of burning paraffin candle illumination.
Electricity polls are cramped with bulb lights which are supposed to light the town but are nonfunctional.
Iganga Municipality mayor David Balaba says they spend about shs50m annually on street road lights and attributed the darkness to theft of bulbs.
“We plan to install solar to reduce the burden associated with electricity,”Balaba said.
He said the priority areas are Main street, Saaza road, Old market street, Ngobi road and Kaliro road respectively.
The Iganga Town clerk, Ayub Kisubi, in his submission supported the mayor’s view, saying installing solar energy will help restore the past glory of the town and boost trade in the area.
“We have allocated Shs20m in this running budget for buying and installing solar power. Because of financial constraints, we are beginning small and we shall expand to other roads in the town,” Kisubi said.
Councillor Kataba Mohammad, the secretary for works and technical services, said the solar project will not only bring an end to darkness in the town centre but will also help guard against unscrupulous businesses who connect to municipal street lights and leave council with a huge bill.
“If we go solar, we shall not be only advancing like other towns but we shall get relieved from the burden of people who cheat on our power,” Kataba said.