The building belongs to Edget Be-Andinet S.C. City officials shut it down in mid-September over accusations that the company had not renewed its trade license since 2017.

Municipal authorities have issued a notice to a share company that owns a commercial property in Mercato, demanding managers meet a list of requirements within 15 days or face permanent closure.

Edget Be-Andinet S.C. has been told to acquire a new trade license, hold a shareholders' assembly to elect a new board of directors, and hire an external auditor.

“Failure to do so will lead to the closure of the building permanently,” said Meketa Adafre, advisor at the Addis Abeba Trade Bureau. He accuses the company of violating its articles of association by having its board of directors serve for five consecutive terms. He also alleges it had hired an external auditor that shareholders had not approved.

The three-storey building was constructed in Mercato a decade ago at the cost of 40 million Br. It accommodates 350 stores and shops, including offices and a cafe. The building has been the contention between city officials and the company over the past few years. A year ago, authorities sealed five shops in the building but reopened them after the Addis Abeba First Instance Court ruled in favour of Edget Be-Andinet.

The authorities closed the building two months ago, alleging that the company had not renewed its trade license. They allowed it to reopen three weeks after repeated appeals from traders who lease space in the building.

Habtamu Tilaye, trade inspection and regulatory director at the Trade Bureau, says his office has been trying to shut the building down since 2017 over the expired trade license.

“Due to the pending court cases and disputes between the shareholders, officials were not able to execute their decision,” he said.

Osman Ahmed is among the businesspeople idled for nearly a month due to the authorities’ measures. Osman had paid rent in advance before the closure, selling clothes with a staff of two in the building, which is unlikely to be refunded. The father of two was operating with a valid license and contended that his business was closed unfairly.

“My future is still uncertain,” he said.

Though he is back in his shop, it might prove to be a temporary respite if the share company fails to meet the requirements laid out by city officials.

Kadir Muzayen, general manager of Edget Be-Andinet, says the management takes the notice issued on November 13, 2021, seriously.

“We’ll comply with the requirements,” he told Fortune.

However, failure by the share company to comply will lead officials to shut down the building again, forcing the businesses out.

“The traders have to relocate if the share company doesn’t comply,” Habtamu said.

Nejat Hussein, another store owner in the building, is faced with an uncertain future. She is not convinced the company will adhere to the Bureau’s demands.

“It’ll be a difficult life if my business is closed,” said Nejat.

PUBLISHED ON Nov 13,2021 [ VOL 22 , NO 1124]

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