Agriculture Minister Vincent Ssempijja has deviated from a parliament directive on the suspension of operations by the Uganda People’s Defense Forces-UPDF Fisheries Unit on Lakes across the country.
Parliament issued the directive in December last year, demanding that UPDF halts its operations on the lakes due to complaints of rights violations by fishing communities against soldiers. The Speaker of Parliament Rebecca Kadaga said there is a need for an explanation from the government on why soldiers harass, kill and extort money from fishermen on Lake Victoria.
Her demand followed a statement by Idah Nabayiga, the Kalangala Woman Member of Parliament and member of the consortium of Island MPs that the UPDF fisheries unit has killed up to 17 people and injured several others during its operations.
However, the Commandant of the Unit, Col. James Nuwagaba told Uganda Radio Network that they can only stop their activities on the instruction of the president. The Unit was instituted on a presidential directive issued in February 2017, to curb illegal fishing on Lake Victoria.
At the time, Uganda was struggling with dwindling fish stocks, which had led to the closure of several fish processing plants. Only 2 of the 19 fish processing companies were operating.
Now Ssempijja has disagreed with the parliament directive, saying that to contrary to the reports, the unit has registered tremendous success in the fight against illegal fishing.
He, however, says there is a need to punish all errant soldiers involved in rights violations in the execution of their mandate.
English//Cue in; “As far as …
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Luganda //Cue in; “eky’amagye okubeera kunyanja …
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Willy Lugoloobi, the Kalangala District LC V Chairperson concurs with Ssempijja, saying there is need to regulate the operations of the unit instead of halting its operations.
“Yes, they are doing some good work. However, there is a need to recycle the soldiers so as they do not stay in one area for more than three years because the officers get used to the people and start being corrupt,” said Lugoloobi.