Hoima, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Fishermen attached to Kaiso landing site in Buseruka sub county in Hoima district are demanding for the unconditional release of their fishing gear that was impounded by Uganda Peoples Defense forces-UPDF marine officers and Uganda Police Force-UPF.
Up to 83 fishing boats and 23 boat engines were impounded from the fishermen on Lake Albert waters near Kaiso landing site in April this year for defying the ban on night fishing activities that was imposed as part of the covid-19 preventive measures.
At the time of the ban, the district security committee observed that some Ugandan fishermen were crossing to the Democratic Republic of Congo where they were mixing freely with the local communities before crossing back to Uganda.
This the committee said was a risk to Ugandans that were trying to contain the spread of the coronavirus disease. However, the fishermen defied the ban and continued with normal business prompting the army and police to swing into action.
Security has continued holding the impounded boats and engines drawing protests from the fishermen. Henry Irumba, the LC 1 chairperson Kaiso landing site says the families of the affected fishermen are experiencing untold suffering since they can no longer afford providing for their families.
Betty Bagadira, 60, whose boat was confiscated says life has totally become unbearable for her family since the boat was their only source of their survival. She asks the office of Hoima Resident District Commissioner-RDC to intervene and order the release of their boats.
Fred Mujuni, another fisherman says they have severally engaged Hoima Resident District Commissioner-RDC, Samuel Kisembo to facilitate the release of their fishing gear in vain. He wonders why in other districts fishing gear that was confiscated during the COVID-19 lockdown was returned to their owners.
Rashid Uuru also a fisherman says when he approached the UPDF Marine Unit to secure the release of his boat engine, he was asked to pay Shillings 1 million that he can’t afford.
Samuel Kisembo, the Hoima Ressident District Commissioner-RDC, says a decision has not yet been taken to release the impounded boats and engines to the owners.
In May, Marine police attached to Sebigoro detach in Kikuube district impounded 11 boats from fishermen at Sebigoro landing site for defying the night-time ban on fishing activities.
Lake Albert employs approximately 56,000 fishermen who harvest more than 100,000 tons of fish per year. Overall, fishing supports the livelihood of more than 1.6 million people in Uganda.