Mbarara Timber Traders Struggle to Rebuild after Devastating Fire, Seek For Help

City Mayor Mugabe Robert Kakyebezi, RCC Robert Kanusu during the meeting with timber traders during a stock taking meeting

MBARARA, UGANDA | THE BLACK EXAMINER – Victor Bwana Timber traders in Mbarara city, who suffered losses exceeding 1 billion Ugandan Shillings due to a devastating fire that engulfed their workplace last Friday, are appealing to city authorities for permission to resume operations in temporary structures.

This appeal was made by the traders during a comprehensive meeting attended by 176 affected individuals, city officials, and representatives from various organizations. The gathering, presided over by Kanusu Robert, the deputy Resident City Commissioner of North Division, saw the participation of Mugabe Robert Kakyebezi, the Mayor of Mbarara City, along with police personnel, MBACITA leaders, and technical staff from Mbarara City.

During the meeting, the RCC pledged continued support to the affected traders and committed to preparing a comprehensive report that could aid them in seeking assistance from the Prime Minister’s office and Parliament.

Mayor Mugabe Robert Kakyebezi expressed astonishment at the fire outbreak, which occurred a day after he had cautioned the police to enhance their preparedness. This warning was issued during his attendance at a pipelaying function, following a previous incident in October 2021 when timber traders along Akiiki Nyabongo road had to seek help from a fire truck provided by the Bushenyi police due to a slow response.

Furthermore, Mayor Kakyebezi urged commercial banks to show leniency towards the traders as they strive to recover from their losses. He also instructed engineers and commercial officers to collaborate with timber business leaders in facilitating a prompt resumption of their activities.

The Mayor informed the traders that a long-term plan was in place to relocate them to Koranorya once the location was adequately prepared to serve their needs.

Addressing the traders, MBACITA Chairperson Mwijuka Simon Ssezi emphasized the importance of unity and having a collective voice. He encouraged them to establish a Savings and Credit Cooperative Organization (SACCO) that would provide support in times of calamity.

Silagi Abbas Magara, the Chairperson of Victor Bwana Timber traders, revealed personal losses amounting to Sh30 million, with the collective loss of all traders reaching over 1,002,680,000 Ugandan Shillings. He attributed this significant loss to the failure of the police to promptly respond to extinguish the fire.

Magara expressed gratitude to the road construction management team, who eventually assisted with their vehicles in fighting the fire, albeit too late to salvage much.

While awaiting approval from the city council to resume operations, he urged fellow traders to remain patient. Additionally, he requested security measures to protect their property when they recommence their activities in the temporary structures.

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