Traders ask for government’s intervention on rent

By Robert Segawa

Traders under the Kampala city traders association ( Kacita) are asking the president to compel Landlords and building owners to excuse them from rent during this period when the country is facing a near complete lock down due to the outbreak of COVID19.

Association Spokesperson Isa Ssekito says ever since the president ordered closure of boarders it has been very difficult for traders to make sales. He says many of them have resorted to staying home to follow the government directive of minimizing movements while others simply have no stock to avail to their clients. He also says they are very few buyers in town who are buying basic needs other than things they can do without during this period.

Ssekito therefore says because of the pressure landlords are placing on these people during this stressing time, many are going to be forced to take loans so as to pay rent which he asks that government intervenes before it is too late.

Traders’ rent case flops

Kampala High court judge Andrew Byabasaija has pushed to the 10th of this week hearing of the case in which Traders from Qualicell bus Terminal ,Nabukeera plaza and Jamboree Arcades petitioned the High court -Land division asking to deposit their rent with its ( court’s ) cashier until the ongoing management problems on who owns the buildings are sorted out.

The case was meant to be heard on Monday Afternoon, however, the judge pushed it to Wednesday this week to allow both sides to organize their defense.

The buildings are currently being claimed by city businessmen Drake Lubega, Mansur Matovu alias Young and the late rally driver Charles Muhangi through his Horizon coaches ltd.

On the 2nd of April 291 traders filed their suit escorted by Kampala Lord Mayor Erias Lukwago asking court to summon the warring factions to appear before court and clarify on who is the real owner and manager of the contentious buildings.

Currently, both Lubega and Mansur are claiming ownership of the building following the sudden and abrupt death of Muhangi in February this year to whom the traders were paying their rent arrears too.

These have since informed the traders that the buildings belongs to them not the late Muhangi whom the supreme court had declared owner of the buildings.

And worse still the now new owners and managers are forcing the traders to not only pay their current arrears to them, but also again pay the already five months arrears that they had paid to Muhangi when he was still alive.

These have also gone ahead and closed the shops of those traders who are not willing to clear to them the already rent arrears that they had paid to the late Muhangi which has seen traders protesting.

However, the traders insist that they do not know who is the real owner and manger of the buildings to whom they should pay rent too since the court had declared that Muhangi owned the said buildings and he was doing so until his sudden death.

The traders also insist that if court clarifies on the rightful owner, that they are willing to pay the rent arias to him starting with the new months (February) but not even the past five months that they had paid to Muhangi through Horizon Coaches ltd as being demanded by the alleged new owners.

According to the traders, the supreme court placed the management of the three buildings under Horizon Coaches ltd on the 5th of November 2018.

These further claim that after the supreme court order, the buildings were renovated and renamed Horizon city and Bazanya N’engo respectively and each tenant was ordered to pay a 1.2 million shillings as registration fee which they cleared .

They further state that the tenants have since then been paying rent fees ranging from 400, 000 to 3 million shillings to Horizon Coaches until some time in February this year when both Drake Lubega and Mansur Matovu showed up each claiming ownership and management of the 3 buildings.

The traders say that apart from the two claiming owners hiring stick wielding men and security to beat them, these have also turned off electricity and other utilities and locking their shops and threatened to evict any trader who wi continue with paying their rent arrears to Horizon Coaches.

These are now asking court to issue an injunction stopping the 2 businessmen from further trespassing and interfering with their business premises until issues of management are clarified and settled by court .

They also want court to order Drake Lubega and Mansur Matovu to pay them General damages for loss of business and inconvenience after the two closed their shops yet they had cleared their due rent arrears.

On the 21st of March this year the traders closed their shops and protested after their power was switched off by allegedly Young after they refused to pay the double rent.

These were also demanding an independent account on which they should pay their rent because they were tired of paying rent to one person then someone else comes and claims to be the real owner of the building.

It took Kampala central Member of Parliament Muhammad Nsereko’s intervention to have the power turned on and promised to take the traders grievances to Parliament for redress.

In November 2018, President Museveni met the three persons fighting for the buildings in a move to solve the problem after ownership wrangles broke out after Muhangi evicted Drake Lubega and his agent Young from the buildings on plot 43 to 47 in Nakivubo road using a letter from the solicitor General’s which letter was then recalled by the solicitor general.

Drake Lubega and the late Charles Muhangi had for long been fighting over the ownership of the buildings and the supreme court declared Muhangi the owner after Lubega had withdrew his appeal.

The calmness did not take long because when Muhangi died in February this year, Lubega came back and claimed to be the owner and ordered the traders to clear a debt areas including the rent for the past five months that they had paid to Muhangi before he passed away.

However, the traders are contesting the double payment and are also confused on who is the real owner or manager of the said buildings to whom rent arrears should be paid to.

According to Kampala Lord Mayor Erias Lukwago, the traders on the three arcades including Jamboree, Qualicell and Nabukera are legal tenants who are being constrained by Drake Lubega and Young.

He says that these in November 2018 both the supreme court and constitutional court gave Muhangi ownership of the arcades and the traders being law abiding citizens followed the court order before Drake once again came back and caused the commotion.

He says that the traders have suffered massive loses due to drake Lubega’s actions and should be compensated asca result.

Meanwhile, government has since issued an order to Lubega to not close the buildings and allow court to do its work.

These have also been told to not pay any rent until court has clarified who is the rightful manager of the said buildings.

However, Drake Lubega insists that if anyone does not want to pay him his rent then they should leave his building.