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UPDF Accused of Harassing Fishermen on Rwenshama Landing Site

The Fishermen say that without any explanation, the unit officers withdrew their licenses and declared that new licenses have been given to only those members who belong to Rwenshama Fishing Company, an arrangement which had been abolished by the government to allow issuance of licenses on individual merit.
12 Mar 2019 17:29

Audio 3

The Uganda Peoples Defense Forces (UPDF) Fisheries Protection Unit has been accused of harassing Fishermen operating at Rwenshama Landing Site on the shores of Lake Edward in Rukungiri District.     

The Fishermen say that without any explanation, the unit officers withdrew their licenses and declared that new licenses have been given to only those members who belong to Rwenshama Fishing Company, an arrangement which had been abolished by the government to allow issuance of licenses on individual merit.      

The fishermen also accused UPDF soldiers of whipping them and confiscating their fishing gear under unclear reasons. Hebert Kato, one of the fishermen accuses the UPDF of conniving with tycoons to block their sole source of income.      

Christine Tumwebaze says that the soldiers and officers led by Lt. Col James Nuwagaba first ordered them to buy new bigger engine boats and fish nets worth 21 million Shillings.  She adds that after securing loans to meet the demand, the same team announced that the licenses were being withdrawn, albeit without an explanation.      

Tumwebaze is now calling for government intervention, to solve the feud between them and the soldiers and provide for compensations options for those that are unwanted on the lake. 

//Cue in; “ tukaba turyaho twareeba …

Cue out: …endijo mirimo.”// 

Jackson Tumushabe, another concerned fisherman says that the mandate of withdrawing fishing licenses is a preserve of the Fisheries Department in the Ministry of Agriculture and not UPDF or its Fisheries Protection Unit.

//Cue in; “kandi itwe enamba…

Cue out: …kubaasa kushoha.”// 

Rujumbura County Member of Parliament Fred Turyamuhweza tasks the UPDF Fisheries Protection Unit to thoroughly explain why licenses were being withdrawn from the fishermen. Turyamuhweza commits to take up the matter with the Agriculture Ministry.      

//Cue in; “aba Ministry of…

Cue out…ebizibu ebi.”//      

Lieutenant Colonel James Nuwagaba, the commander of soldiers under the Fisheries Protection Unit at Lake Edward declined to comment on the matter. However, Rukungiri Resident District Commissioner Dan Kaguta says that the matter is being investigated.

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