A number of car dealers in Masaka municipality have continued operating in defiance of a police directive to close business. Last week, Police ordered the car dealers to close after some of their colleagues were implicated for selling stolen vehicles.
The decision came after the Police Flying Squad recovered three vehicles from some car dealers in Masaka. Some of the car dealers operate in the green belt along Batch Avenue, others in the compound of Data Mine Technical Institute, others between Barclays Banks and Crane Bank and along Kampala Road opposite Umeme offices.
Maxwell Ogwal, the Greater Masaka Region Police Commander, says they suspect robbers connive with the car dealers to steal vehicles. He identifies some of the latest stolen vehicles as registration number UAS 296QD, UAX 993G and UAW 201W.
He says as a result, they ordered all car dealers to close immediately until they are licensed to operate. But Hajj NK Baker, the chairperson Masaka Car Dealers Association, says Police has no authority to close their business.
According to Baker, his bond is registered and no stolen vehicle was found there. He says although many of them operate in open spaces, they are known to Masaka municipality and Uganda Revenue Authority.
He asks Police to present details of the stolen vehicles and impound them instead of closing their business. Joy Walusimbi, the Masaka Resident District Commissioner and Masaka Municipal Council officials have opposed the clamp down on the car dealers.
According to Walusimbi, it is wrong to clamp down on people’s business without concrete evidence. She says the Police Flying Squad raided the car dealers without any evidence of the purported vehicle thefts.
Godfrey Kayemba, the Mayor Masaka Municipality says they approved the operations of the car dealers, warning that closing their business will fuel vehicle thefts.