Shops and other businesses around Kisekka Market, in downtown Kampala were this morning forced to close their operations after two factions of market vendors nearly started a riot.
Police had to be deployed to restore calm to the usually busy market best known for sale of motorcar spare parts. Police fired several teargas canisters to break up the fighting factions.
The fight started at around 8:00am and lasted for two hours.
The fight broke out after a group tried to uproot a signpost by the Nakivubo Road-Old Kampala Kisekka Market Vendors Limited. The signpost announces the redevelopment of the market.
The signpost reads: Nakivubo Road-Old Kampala Kisekka Market Vendors Limited. Project: Construction First Phase Starts 31/12/2014. Members Let Us Prepare for Relocation. Unity is Strength.
The group that tried to uproot the signpost claimed that they were being marginalised from the running of the market.
Before this group could succeed in uprooting the signpost, they were intercepted by another group that claims to belong to the Nakivubo Kisekka Market Vendors Limited. The second group arrested two men who were leading the move to uproot the signpost.
In the meantime police had been called as traders shoved each other and threatened violence.
James Sebugwawo, an eye witness, says the situation degenerated very fast prompting wary shop owners to close their premises.
Kampala Metropolitian Police Operations Commander Sam Omala commanded the police operation to calm the traders. He confirms the arrest of five persons. He says they will be charged with malicious damage to property. He, however, declined to reveal the identity of the persons arrested.
Omala has appealed to the traders to open up their shops and continue with their normal businesses. Omala says the quick action of reporting the disturbance shows that the traders are beginning to realize the importance of community policing.
By the time of filing this story, though some of the police officers had been withdrawn from the scene of chaos, there was still heavy deployment.
Kisekka Market on Ben Kiwanuka Street is closely watched by security personnel because it is usually the nerve centre of civil disobedience or protest in Kampala.