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Mbarara traders oppose closure of city roads during City Festival

Mbarara is set to host the 2024 City Festival next month

Mbarara is set to host the 2024 City Festival next month

Traders in Mbarara have expressed their discontent with the city council's proposal to close some streets during the upcoming 2024 City Festival.

The second edition of the two-day festival is scheduled for June 21-22, 2024 at the Independence Park. Organized by Mbarara City Council in collaboration with the Private Sector Foundation Uganda (PSFU), the event aims to attract businessmen, traders, and corporate companies interested in participating, under the theme “Celebrating Mbarara City as Regional Trade and Hospitality Hub.”

According to Assy Abireebe Tumwesigire, Mbarara city town clerk, streets including High Street from Bull Monument and other connecting roads will be closed for the two-day festival. The city council envisions attracting hundreds of traders and revellers from neighbouring districts and countries like Tanzania, Rwanda, Burundi, and DR Congo, aiming to create a vibrant business environment and foster socio-economic transformation. 

Tumwesigire emphasizes the need for pedestrian and reveller cooperation during this period. However, James Nindugaomwiguru, a trader at High Street, expresses concern that despite the festival's intent to boost local businesses and the economy, the street closures will adversely affect traders not participating in the event.

Denis Mushabe, another trader along the High Street, believes that closing streets for a festival situated approximately 100 meters away is unjust. He threatens to protest if the city authorities maintain their directive, arguing that they need access to their workplaces.

Allan Karakure, Mbarara city commercial officer and chairperson of the organizing committee said this year's festival will feature an array of activities including street expos, exhibitions, medical camps, blood donation drives, cultural performances, and music and dance shows. He emphasized the importance of maintaining traffic flow despite the festivities to accommodate the large number of participants.   

Mayor Robert Mugabe Kakyebezi echoes Karakure's sentiments, stating that this year's event aims to commemorate the milestones achieved since Mbarara attained city status on July 1, 2020.

“This is not just a gathering, it is an investment to mark the growth and resilience of Mbarara city as a thriving hub of regional trade and a paradox of hospitality," said Kakyebezi. Adding that Mbarara has a history of trade and commerce with a diversity of businesses to support its economic growth. 

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