Fishermen on Lake Edward in Kasese District have asked the government
to lift the ban on night fishing following increasing cases of piracy.
As part of the nationwide lockdown, fishing activities during
night hours were suspended to stem the spread of COVID-19. The decision
was in line with a curfew announced by President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni.
Before the lockdown, the fishermen would cast their fishing nets
in the evening and spend a night on the water to guard over their catch.
However, the fishermen note that suspected Congolese
nationals have been stealing their fishing gears including boat engines, nets,
boats and fish.
Some fishermen have also been taken hostage and only to regain
their freedom after paying a ransom.
Abdullah Mukibi, a fisherman, says that the Congolese fishermen
are taking advantage of the absence of patrol teams and fishermen from Uganda
during the night to cross into Ugandan waters.
Mukibi adds that piracy has become a menace on the lake slowing
down the fishing activity.
“Our most need is the government to allow us to operate at night,
there we shall be able to defend our items or at least they can send a marine
force to oversee them” Mukibi notes.
//Cue in: “Itwe titukunyaga byabo…
Cue out:.. turakuma ebintu bwaitu.”//
Javira Mugabwira another fisherman in Katwe landing site says that he has
lost his new nets to the Congolese fishermen. He says that the Congolese attack
the fishing zone armed with machetes and arrows to loot fish and rob Ugandan
//Cue in: “Omukuza kugaruka obundi…
Cue out:…barikurondami obusya.”//
Joseph Kacuncu a boat owner at Katwe landing site lost two of his
boats in the last two months to the Congolese fishermen.
Kacuncu also says they are incurring high costs of fuel due to
multiple travels since they no longer spend nights in the fishing zones.
//Cue in: “Hibo aba congo….
Cue out:…balinde obutimba bwaitu.”//
Robert Kasaija the Chairperson Katwe landing site says more than 20 fishermen
have lost their fishing gears worth 70 million shillings.
Kasaija wants the government to consider allowing the fishermen to
return to their normal operations while observing the Standard Operating Procedures.
Pascal Ecumu Charge of the Marine Police Unit on Lakes Edward and
George says that his office has received cases of theft of fishing gadgets.
He, however, maintains that the lockdown measures put in place
have to obeyed regardless of the present situation.