By Ritah Nakamya
The Minister of State for Fisheries, Hon Hellen Adoa has commended the efforts of the Uganda Peoples’ Defence Forces’ (UPDF) Marines in securing Ugandan fishermen from aggression by criminals who operated on the waters of Lake Albert.
“The UPDF has ably coordinated with their Congolese counterparts to foster good neighborliness. In this way, and through intensified operations on the waters of Lake Albert, they have by far addressed the longstanding problem of Ugandan fishermen being aggressed by some people who after afflicting our people utilized the laws governing international borders to escape by crossing over to the Democratic Republic of Congo side,” said Hon Adoa. She noted that the organized armed gangs used to confiscate the fishing gear of Ugandan fisherman or kidnap the fishermen for ransom.
The Minister said this while while on a tour to assess the extent of the damage caused by floods on the communities living along the shores of Lake Albert; Butiaba, Walukuba, Runga and Kaiso landing sites, and to assure the people of government resolve to support them in mitigating the effects of the floods.
The UPDF Marine Brigade Commander, Brig Gen Michael Nyarwa, reiterated UPDF’s Commitment in securing the fishermen against the threats from the criminals operating in the waters. “We will never get tired or sit back and watch Ugandans suffering in the hands of these outlaws,” said Brig Gen Nyarwa.
Brig Gen Nyarwa emphasized the need for continued collaboration between the community and UPDF as well as timely information sharing with the Security Forces about the gang to enable the UPDF Marines and Police perform better in securing the fishermen on the waters. He also warned of some people impersonating as UPDF Marines to extort money from fishermen.
“Be informed that UPDF services are never for a fee and we do not ask for facilitation from the public to perform our duties. Exoneration of persons suspected in crime too is for no charge. Kindly report to us anyone trying ask for any material thing from you in exchange for a favour or service,” Brig Gen Nyarwa told the leaders of the landing sites.
Brig Gen Nyarwa also asked the communities to desist from criminal tendencies that expose them to possibilities of being conned. He particularly cautioned against illegal fishing practices and explained the benefits of compliance with the set fishing guidelines.
“Do not put yourselves in situations that will render you targets of the conmen. Besides, why engage in illegal fishing activities?” said Brig Nyarwa. He added that, “If you say no to illegal fishing practices, you will reap more income. Already, before the COVID-19 pandemic, fishermen had started reaping big from the high demand for fish by the mushrooming fish factories, thanks to those who are observing the correct fishing practices.”
Present at the function were the Local Council 5 Chairperson for Bulisa District, Mr. Kinene Simon, who requested for a speedy intervention by government to avert the effects of the floods ravaging the area. Also present were Member of Parliament for Buliisa County; Hon Birahwa Mukitale, the Acting Director for Fisheries; Mr. Rukunya Edward and leaders of the landing sites, among other notable