Tension Mounts on Lake Kyoga As Fishing Operations Turn Bloody

4987 Views Nakasongola, Uganda

In short
James Mukwaya, a fisherman on Moone Landing site says the situation is tense.

Tension is high on Lake Kyoga following the shooting of a fisherman during a joint operation conducted by police and fisheries officer to crack down on illegal fishing. Apio Muteeso was shot dead last week by Sergeant Richard Ongom, the officer in charge of Kikooge Police post under unclear circumstances. It is alleged that the fish monger was dead while protesting attempts by enforcement officers led by Isaac Kalunda to impound his fish and extort money from him.  Another group of the law enforcement officers survived lynching at Ttumba-Kamuli and used tear gas to disperse rowdy fishermen who attacked them for alleged extortion and brutality. 

James Wandira, the Nakasongola LC V chairperson says both incidents have sparked anger amongst fishermen across the 25 land sites in the district. He says the angry fishermen have resolved to resort to mob justice to defend themselves against extortion and brutality by the fisheries enforcement officers. According to Wandira, the fishermen have lost trust in the operations because of the fisheries officers impound undersize nets and resell them on other landing sites. He claims that the fisheries officers also use armed police officers to terrorize fishermen and extort money from them.

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Wandira says that they are planning to petition for the intervention of president Yoweri Museveni. Robert Ssenyonga, the chairperson Nakasongola Beach Management Unit says the fishermen have blacklisted some enforcement officers adding that, they are ready to attack them should they step on the landing sites to carry out any operations. Ssenyonga says that the residents are disgruntled because the operations are being used to extort money from fishermen instead of fighting illegal fishing.

James Mukwaya, a fisherman on Moone Landing site says the situation is tense. He claims that the fishermen have formed vigilante groups to battle the enforcement officers because government has failed to streamline their operations. Denis Bataringaya, the leader of the fisheries enforcement officers declined to comment on the allegations leveled against his team by the fishermen. Dick Ayesogomwe, the Nakasongola District Police Commander says that they have arrested Richard Angom, the cop accused of shooting to death a fisherman.

He says that they have also started to investigate the allegations against the fisheries officers to find ways to diffuse the tension on the lake. Last year, a fisherman in Kamuli drowned in the lake while trying to evade arrest by the law enforcement officers.

 

About the author

Brian Luwaga
Since Brian Luwaga joined Uganda Radio Network in 2011, he is still amazed how, "URN is a place that gives journalists a chance to enhance their skills . It gives a journalist an opportunity to adopt and master various aspects of journalism that include radio broadcast, social media, photography and television production."

A practicing journalist since 2009, first with Star FM, Luwaga has always been keen to write about the concerns of the "common person." Based for much of his career in Luweero, Luwaga takes it as a compliment if politicians complain that his reporting is too harsh.

In his journalism, Luwaga likes to merge the past with the present. He believes you cannot understand what is happening now, if you do not have a grounding in the past. Brian Luwaga is the Luweero URN bureau chief. Nakasongola, Nakaseke, Mityana, Mubende and Wakiso districts fall under his docket.

Luwaga is interested in humanitarian work and is a keen Rotarian.