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Councilors Divided over Fisheries Probe Report

The report notes that BMU members who fail to comply with the orders of the fisheries officer to collect the illegal fees have their operational cards confiscated.

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Hoima district council is divided over a probe team report implicating James Mwesigwa, the district fisheries officer and his staff for extortion and corruption. The report was compiled by a five member probe team set up in March by the district council following a petition filed by the Kabwoya sub county LC V councilor against the district fisheries office. The report tabled before the council on Wednesday by Dan Muhiarwe, the chairperson of the probe committee, implicates members of the Beach Management Units-BMU for collecting illegal fees from fishermen.

The report notes that BMU members who fail to comply with the orders of the fisheries officer to collect the illegal fees have their operational cards confiscated. Muhairwe cited the BMU officials of Nkondo, Waki and Kijangi landing sites as some of the officials who became victims of the district fisheries official when they refused to collect illegal fees. The report also pinned Mwesigwa for receiving between shs 500, 000 and 1,000,000 from fishermen from Nebbi and Kisoro districts as bribe to categorize them as Ugandans.

Non Ugandan fishermen pay Two million shillings for license on the country’s waters as opposed to Ugandans who only pay shs 100,000. The probe team also established that no money collected from registration of fishing canoes was being remitted to the district by the fisheries officer. There are about 6000 fishing canoes on Lake Albert, each paying shs10, 000 for registration. Muhairwe says this plunges the district into a revenue loss of Sixty million shillings.

The committee recommended that disciplinary action be taken against the fisheries officer.URN could not easily trace Mwesigwa as he did not attend the council meeting and his known telephone number did not go through. But the report has divided members of the council. Darlison Kusiima, the woman councilor representing Bugambe Sub County says the report is biased as some of the people interviewed were already against fisheries operation on the lake.

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But Vincent Opio, the Kabwoya district councilor and the lead petitioner says that is happy with the probe committee work and accuses those against the report of being driven by personal desires.

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