By Stephen Wandera
KAMPALA, Uganda Peoples Defence Force (UPDF) has warned market venders selling immature fish of being arrested and prosecuted. Lt Col James Nuwagaba, the commander of the UPDF Fisheries Protection Unit (FPU), said it has taken two years sensitizing vendors to desist from the illegal act but have turned a deaf ear.
“Any time from now, we are conducting an operation in Nakawa, Kawempe, Busega and Owino Markets. Women selling theses immature fish claim they are looking for school fees, this is illegal income,” he said..
What if you use it to pays fees for your son and he becomes a thief in KCCA (Kampala Capital City Authority), whom do you blame, said Lt. Col Nuwagaba during Akabozi FM radio talk show Tuesday, January 16, 2019.
He said last year over 2000 fisher men and traders were arested and prosecuted to illegal fishing.
“There is now more fish in lakes that has attracted seven new processing firms. I am on the President’ directives, whoever I find fishing, selling imature fish or in pocession of illigal fishing gear will be arrested,” he said.
Speaker of Parliament Rebecca Kadaga recently demanded the arrest of who she together with several MPs accused of torturing fishermen in the operations against illegal fishing on Lake Victoria.
Ms Kadaga, who was reacting to Bukooli County MP George Ouma Abbot’s concern over the conduct of the soldiers, also revealed that she had interacted with several fishermen who had blamed the soldiers.
“The Prime Minister is directed to come tomorrow [Wednesday] and address us on this impunity. The Prime Minister should come without fail,” she said.
“That man Nuwagaba must be arrested,’ the Speaker added.
The Speaker said whereas other countries such as Kenya also have security personnel on the lake, complaints are usually against Ugandan security personnel.
Mr Abbot also accused the UPDF enforcement officers on Lake Victoria of extortion.
“They have become extortionist; they are beating our people and extorting money from them,” Mr Abbot said.
He claimed the army confiscated fish worth Shs9 million from a fisherman.
Ms Kadaga tasked Maj Gen, Ivan Koreta, one of the ten UPDF representatives in Parliament, to explain the brutality.
Maj. Gen. Koreta said the Defence ministry and the head of the army would be better placed to respond.
“What is going on in the lake are acts of indiscipline on the individual level; it is not condoned, supported or agreed [to] by the command of the UPDF,” he added.
“I would request the House that we get hold of our commanders at the ministerial level and the command of the UPDF itself to make a formal statement.”