KASESE, UGANDA: The livestock market in Mpondwe-Lhubiriha town council in Kasese district has been reopened two years since its closure.
In March 2020, President Museveni announced several COVID-19 containment measures, which included a ban on open markets and cross-border movements.
Even when the government reopened livestock markets in November 2020, under strict observance of the standard operating procedures, the Mpondwe-Lubiriha livestock market didn’t reopen given the health risk and ongoing construction of a new market.
In return, some Uganda businessmen and their Congolese counterparts established an open cattle market across the border on the DRC side.
Local cattle traders have since been engaging the government to open the market, arguing that the market on the DRC side could eventually take over the entire business. They further indicated that the cattle market was directly and indirectly feeding into other local business enterprises since it attracted hundreds of Congolese into the country,
Boaz Kafude, the chairperson of Mpondwe border cattle market says that the market used to employ over 2000 youths and these have been redundant for the last two years. He says the return of the business on Uganda’s side will be a major boost to local businesses in Mpondwe and beyond.
Bernard Bajera, a cattle trader says that life had become difficult for him since the market was closed two years ago. Bajera says that the absence of the cattle market directly affected local business returns, many of which largely depend on consumers from DR Congo.
Martial Turyahabwe, another cattle trader says that they have been incurring a lot of costs paying for the animals to cross into DRC. Mwesigye Moses Musolo also says the resumption of the business on Uganda’s side will be a major boost to all other local businesses.
Rogers Muhanguzi, a cattle keeper in Nyakatonzi sub county says that the absence of a robust cattle market meant that they were unable to properly care for their animals. He is hopeful that the opening of the market will be a relief to the farmers as well.
Leaders of Mpondwe-Lhubiriha town council say the closure of the livestock market had negatively impacted their local revenue base. The town council chairperson Sylvester Mapozi adds that the market provides job opportunities to mostly youths in the cattle chain.
Kasese Resident District Commissioner-RDC, Lt. Joel Walusimbi has cautioned the livestock traders to comply with the SOPs issued by the ministry of health. Mpondwe border market is one of the biggest animal markets in Western Uganda receiving over 300 heads of cattle daily from the neighboring districts and beyond.