More than 500 families
in Kikuube district are sleeping out in the cold following their eviction from
Lake Albert shores. The families are affected by the second phase of the
closure of illegal landing sites by Uganda People’s Defense Forces-UPDF, which
kicked off on Monday.
The families were evicted from Senjojo and Songarao landing
sites in Kyangwali and Kabwoya Sub counties respectively. They were only given
three hours by the army to vacate their homes. The affected residents have since pitched camp under trees
and churches without any help.
Ali Udota, a resident of Senjojo landing site,
says soldiers raided his home on Tuesday and ordered him to vacate. According to Udota, he resisted the eviction
orders prompting the soldiers to demolish his house. He has now pitched camp
under a tree at the neighboring Bugoma landing site.
//Cue in;”Abedo ka kwo…
Cue out:…de anithe yen.”//
Vicky Muber, a resident of Songarao landing site, says the
situation is unbearable for her family of four children. Muber says she fled
her home after the soldiers threatened to torch her house.
//Cue in;”Giyero wawek kabedo…
Cue out:…Jufodo wa afode.”//
John Opoka, also a resident of Senjojo landing site questions
why soldiers are using excessive force to evict them.
//Cue in;”Dhanu firuwa juyaku…
Cue out:…Wanyang iiye kwe.”//
Vincent Alpher Opio, the Kabwoya Sub county LC 5 Councilor
wonders why people who have settled for years and established permanent homes
on the landing sites should be evicted from their homes like dogs without being
given an alternative place to go to.
Richard Tabaro, the Kikuube Resident District
Commissioner-RDC down plays the allegations of brutality leveled against the
soldier enforcing the closure of illegal landing sites. He says
the affected residents were given sufficient time to relocate to gazetted
landing sites in vain.
In May, government announced
plans to close more than 200 illegal landing sites spread in Hoima, Buliisa and
Kikuube district for allegedly facilitating the illegal movement of people to
and from the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Government also noted that some of the landing sites are
inaccessible by land, which gives Congolese nationals chance to sneak in and
out as they wish thereby exposing Ugandans to danger. The first phase of
the closure of the illegal landing sites kicked off on May 14, 2020.
A total of 61 landing sites were closed in a joint operation
involving UPDF and Uganda Police Force. 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.