KAMPALA, UGANDA: The National Economic Empowerment Dialogue (NEED) Principal Leader Mr. Joseph Kabuleta has rallied all patriotic Ugandans to fight along with fishermen who are being evicted from Lake Wamala.
Government says fishermen are being evicted from Lake Wamala over illegal fishing and encroachment, but to Kabuleta, the authorities are doing this due to their selfish economic interests.
Lake Wamala is one of the freshwater bodies in Uganda and covers the districts of Mubende, Mityana, Gomba and Kasanda. It covers a total area of 250 square kilometres. It is estimated to have reduced by 50 percent between 1998 and 1995. The lake is associated with several rivers and wetlands.
In April this year, the Mityana district leaders stopped all fishing operations on the lake. By the time of the order, Yasin Bbira, the district natural resources officer said this was being done to help restore the fish in the lake which he said had drastically reduced in the past 10 years.
Nevertheless, following the ban, the fishermen piled pressure on the district leadership which eventually lifted the prohibition a few days ago.
“Recently, government came up with an order sending them off Lake Wamala. They told them, they were no longer needed on the lake but due to the strong protest they put up, some of them managed to stay on it and the order was temporarily restrained,” the former presidential candidate told the media during NEED’s weekly press conference in Kampala on Monday.
“The fact is, those who are still reluctant to leave the lake, know very well that those who are evicting them will have to come back and this time round with an energized force. They will come up with many strategies like the lake has ADF rebels. They will do all this to ensure that they kick them off the lake. That’s how this government operates. They use the ADF issue to grab resources from ordinary Ugandans,”he added.
Kabuleta, however, tasked Ugandans from other areas to unite and fight along with the fishermen to ensure that they stay on the lake since it’s their main source of livelihood.
“Every place where there’s any natural wealth, government uses ADF issue as a disguise to send people from that place and make it theirs. That’s the norm…. Those people have managed to rule us for long because they have divided us. Everyone cries from his sector. Fishermen are complaining from where they are, the corporates are also crying, business people are also crying, every person is crying but each one of us is crying individually. We want to bring together our cries and we support each other if we are to revive our nation,” he urged.
” If you fight for fishermen today, then tomorrow they will also be able to fight for you or any other suffering Ugandan. We shouldn’t allow these people in power to divide us.”
Speaking at the same press conference, Isaiah Musisi, a fishermen who represented his colleagues who make their trade on Lake Wamala, tasked government to find them an alternative job before evicting them from the lake.
“Recently government passed a resolution to make Lake Wamala unaccessible on grounds of illegal fishing. But our worry is that we have no other job for survival apart from fishing. It means that if we are sent off the waters, we shall be rendered jobless and government has no another plan/alternative for us,” said Musisi, a resident of Nama Village in Mityana District.
The fisherman also expressed wary that they are hearing rumors of mass evictions orchestrated by Uganda People’s Defence Forces (UPDF) Fisheries Protection Unit, which is currently allover the lake.
” If we are sent off the lake, where shall we go? And what shall we do? We have families to take care of. Another thing, this decision by government doesn’t affect only us the fishermen but also other stakeholders in business. We call upon government that we are not refusing to leave the lake, but it should think about us. If we are leaving the lake, atleast, it should have an alternative plan for us to improve our livelihoods by giving us other jobs to do,” Musisi cried out.
He further disclosed that these days they see “Chinese people and their agents scouring the lake”. The lake known for its high volume of Nile Perch is said to have attracted the Chinese investors dealing in exportation of the lucrative fish maw.
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