On February 7, 2017, the NRM government minister for Kampala, Ms. Beti Kamya Turomwe, issued a directive giving the vendors in the Kampala Yard market 30 days to vacate their place of business. The vendors were shocked to discover that, at around 2:00 AM on February 27, 2017, ten days before the deadline, plainclothes men demolished the market and destroyed or confiscated most of the vendors’ stock.
BugandaWatch has reliably learnt that Beti Kamya’s decision to act before the deadline was enabled by a contract that she had agreed to with Katikkiro Mayiga, for Mengo to provide its influence and public relations services to ensure control over Baganda reactions. How much Mengo will be paid under the contract remains a secret.
Indeed, on February 28, 2017, while Park Yard market vendors were mourning their lost property, Facebook, radio, TV and other news channels under Mengo or NRM government influence were all showing colorful photos from a signing ceremony for what www.buganda.or.ug called “a memorandum of [understanding] with Kampala [Capital City Authority] to beef up joint efforts in cleaning Kampala [City].” At the signing, Mayiga linked the agreement to Kabaka Mutebi’s previous calls for promoting good health, sanitation and welfare – for maximum weight.
In a related development, on March 1, 2017 Betty Kamya told the Uganda parliament that she was proud of the Park Yard removal. She said, “It is a resounding mission for which Parliament deserves to give me a handshake. I am proud that we have successfully brought to end a twenty year old dispute and we relocated over 5,000 people without teargas, without a gunshot. I am very glad that the park yard market that I saw in the middle of a city has now been brought down and that Nakivubo can now be development in an ultra-modern facility we all deserve.”
Park Yard was a makeshift market standing next to Nakivubo War Memorial Stadium and Owino Market, facing towards the Kampala old taxi park. It was the only major market in Kampala where a huge majority of the vendors were Baganda and especially women. The vendors had resisted to give it up even after several attempts by NRM government agents to grab it. Arsonist set fires on fire in 2019, 2011 and 2013.
The people who destroyed Park Yard also tore down the 90 year old Nakivubo War Memorial Stadium, which president Yoweri Museveni previously gave to one Hamis Kiggundu for free, to “redevelop”. Kiggundu, about 35 years old, is part of the new breed of allegedly wealthy businessmen who have no public record of running a business without government gifts.