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Congolese leaders accuse UPDF of capturing 100 DRC fishing boats

UPDF marine soldiers are accused of allegedly crossing into Congo side of Kyiavinyonge landing site in Beni territory and carrying out arbitrary arrests of Congolese fishermen. File Photo

Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Congolese leaders are claiming that more than 100 outboard engines with as many canoes that were allegedly seized from Congolese fishermen on Lake Edward by Uganda Peoples Defense Forces -UPDF marine soldiers are rotting away at Rweshama landing site in Bwambara sub county, Rukungiri district since the start of this year.

According to Jean-Paul Ngahangondi, the member of parliament for the territory of Beni in North Kivu province, the latest incident occurred early this month when UPDF marines allegedly crossed into Congo side of Kyiavinyonge landing site in Beni territory, seized four canoes with as many outboard motor engines and arrested 12 fishermen.

Ngahangondi says that the repetitive practice of Uganda’s marine soldiers is consequent to the disorder which is observed within the services which manage the lake activities.

“The problem is that there is a disorder in the fishing activities,” Ngahangondi says. “There is hardly a regulation that is followed. And even the services which are empowered to oversee a certain number of regulations, these services do not play their roles. On the contrary, it is these services that come to terms with those who create disorder in fishing activities. We are deploring this.”

Ngahangondi demands that the higher authorities should get involved to provide a definitive solution to the problem.

He says that their demand of replacing all authorities responsible for security at the lake is yet to be honored.

“We said that we will have to change those responsible for the environmental services and the commander of the naval forces,” he said. “We had asked that other people in charge of the services there also be changed. And until today, they have never been replaced, they are still there, and they continue to collaborate with those who create disorder, with those who engage in illegal fishing … and this is what makes nothing work on the ground.”

Mbusa Kavasya Noah, the Chairman of the Kiavinyonge Individual Fishermen’s Committee claims that last week, the Ugandan navy seized nine canoes from fishermen at Kyavonyonge side of Beni territory.

Mbusa says that these “arbitrary” arrests no longer allow them to work freely on the waters of Lake Edward, and unfortunately the Congolese navy does not bring them any help in the face of the ordeal.

But when contacted, Maj. Yero Muhoozi, the UPDF Marines Political Commissar described the arguments as untrue. He says that there are no Congolese outboards and canoes impounded at Rweshama landing site.

There have been counter-accusations between Uganda and Congolese over the lakes separating the two countries. Early this month, Noe Mbusa Kavasya, a fisherman who is a member of the KyavinyongeI Individual Fishermen’s Association in Beni territory accused the Ugandan marines of arresting 12 Congolese fishermen but UPDF strongly denied it.

In 2018, the DR Congo government accused Uganda of shooting dead 12 Congolese fishermen, something Uganda’s army also denied.

In the same year, Uganda arrested and deported 46 Congolese fishermen after their being intercepted at the same lake.

In August 2020, Congolese soldiers also arrested 10 Ugandan fishermen at the same lake.

On July 12, 2021, suspected Congolese militiamen raided the Lake Albert waters and shot three Ugandan fishermen. The incident happened near the Senjojo landing site in Kyangwali sub county, Kikuube district injuring Robert Amukuhikiriza, Deo Busobozi, and Seremos Byaruhanga, all attached to Nsunzu B landing site in Buhuka parish.

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