Revolt is building silently in the magnificent but poorly constructed Kampala malls as the highly indebted Kampala Landlords turn the burden onto their tenants who are equally doing bad in business.
“Kampala will soon go up in flames as tenants battle their Landlords ” one shop attendant at Premier centre belonging to Bosco Muwonge told the SpearTeam. As you read this, this very morning traders at Premier Complex closed shop and on strike over hiked rent.
Just last week Bosco Muwonge arbitrarily increased rent at his Premier Centre building from three million to three million five hundred shillings.
The tenants who spoke to the SpearTeam said that whenever they sought for audience with their Landlord he dodged them.
The mall with over 100 shops has about three hundred traders as many share shops, with one shop accommodating three traders majority of whom are women.
At Premier Centre, traders are particularly bitter that Mr. Bosco Muwonge shifted his burdens to them and whenever they complain about high rent he shouts back at them that he also has big loans with the banks.
” We are equally indebted to banks, Bosco has been drawing big loans to finance other project that haven’t taken off, so he is squeezing us hard to pay for him, his bank loans”, Traders told us.
Traders are also complaining that Bosco refused to properly receipt the money they give him in rent. The receipts that were shown to SpearTeam only read that so and so has paid rent for the month of February, March without the amount or year.
Traders say this affects their bookkeeping and clearance with Uganda revenue authority as it assists Bosco to evade paying URA taxes.
At Nabukeera Plaza, the famous Omugagga Young only gives his tenants Power from 8:00am to midday for only two bulbs, he says that is his way of saving on expenditures.
At Capital Centre Landlord Ssebalamu has told his tenants to buy themselves off by paying $100,000 (360 millions) each for a sub-lease of twenty years. Ssebalamu is said to have identified a Bank to lend the poor traders the said amount.
Asked why they don’t just walk out of these Malls and get places with better terms, traders say that all Kampala Landlords behave in a similar manner and there is need for Government intervention to regulate this business.
Bagagga kwagalana a group of the rich Kampala landlords, who are said to be not actual arcade owners but frontliners for owners in government are said to have conspired and took leadership of KACITA—an association meant for traders, where they take their complaints and any disagreement with the landlord. Unfortunately their complainants whenever raised fall back to the very oppressive landlords managing KACITA.
This practically means traders are left with no single way out amidst financial exploitation. Traders say they have written many petitions to parliament on different issues but these bosses just sit on them.
The Rent Restriction Act 1949 mandates Government through District Commissioners, to appoint a rent board in each , District, Municipality or Town with powers to regulate rent fees among other things. And where a District fails on this obligation the Minister of Trade is supposed to come in and settle any matter arising out of this failure. This law however is not being implemented despite its existence.