Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Police are holding Zacharia Egweret, who was contracted to build boats for 22 landing sites in Serere district. Egweret was picked up on Friday evening by Police and soldiers attached to the Fisheries Protection Unit- FPU on the orders of the Fisheries State Minister, Helen Adoa.
His troubles stem from several complaints from fishermen over the delayed completion of their boats. Pressure has mounted on the contractor to complete the boats following the resumption of fishing activities on Lake Kyoga last month. Hundreds of people who have paid for the boats have pitched camped in Kagwara landing site waiting for their boats to be completed.
However, the works stalled early this week due to the shortage of paint that ran out of stock in the region. This prompted several fishermen to call on the minister who is also the Serere Woman MP to intervene in the matter. On Friday, Adoa visited Kagwara landing site but as she met the contractor and FPU, some of the fishermen who had spent days in the area waiting for their boats started crying before her causing a scene at the landing site.
Adoa was moved by the tears of an elderly man and expectant mother who fell on her feet while pleading for help. The duo screamed on top of their voices prompting the minister to direct that the two people be served. Bernard Ariangu, the Kagwara landing site FPU chairperson says although the minister directed that the two persons be served considering their state, the authorities involved were stuck since the duo’s boats were not yet ready.
He explained that some arrangements were made to provide the boats but they were surprised when the contractor was arrested in the evening.
Ariangu observes that people who paid for the boats recently are piling a lot of pressure on the contractor, something he notes affects work. “People who paid for the boats last month want to be served faster, leaving those who paid their money in May. But when officers try to explain, they rush to call the minister and that is what is bringing the confusion”, he added.
David Ongom Mudong, the East Kyoga region police spokesman says the contractor has been charged with sabotaging government program vide SD Reference 35/07/08/2020 of CPS Serere. He says police are conducting inquiries into the matter. However, information from Kagwara indicates that people are getting agitated over the arrest of the contractor since it has affected the progress of the work.
Emmanuel Amaitum, the Kagwara village chairperson says the situation has forced him to take a delegation to CPS Serere to negotiate for the possible release of the contractor. Amaitum explains that people are more concerned with the progress of the work, which they want to be completed as soon as possible.
He revealed that the pressure for boats is mounting following the good catch of Nile Perch in the lake.
While launching the reopening of fishing activities on Lake Kyoga on July 27th, 2020, Adoa indicated that 450 boats were ready in Serere. However, most of the boats were not painted. The new guidelines require all boats to be painted boats. The colors differ in each district.