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Fishermen Protest Closure of Illegal Landing Sites on Lake Albert

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John Bamuturaki, a fisherman at Kabolwa landing site in Buliisa district, says closing the landing sites will negatively impact on their livelihoods, adding most of them have established permanent settlements on the landing sites and have nowhere to go.
Fishermen carrying on normal fishing activity near Fofo landing site in Hoima district.Photo by Emmanuel Okello.

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Fishermen in Bunyoro sub-region are protesting the government decision to close over 200 ungazetted landing sites on Lake Albert.

The protests came days after  government announced plans to close the landing sites which were allegedly facilitating the illegal movement of Congolese national to and outside the country despite the nationwide lockdown of the country because of the Covid19 pandemic.

Last week, Major General Leopold Kyanda, the UPDF Chief of Staff for Land Forces held a meeting with top security officials in the Albertine region where it was resolved to close over 200 ungazetted landing sites spread in Kagadi, Kikuube, Hoima and Buliisa districts with immediate effect. 

The security officers also noted that some of these landing sites are inaccessible by land, which gives the Congolese nationals chance to sneak out and thereby exposing Ugandans to danger. Kyanda said they will close 61 illegal landing sites in the four districts in the first phase and close the remaining in phase two. 

Some of the ungazetted landing sites earmarked for closure in Hoima district are Buhuma, Pentye, Nana, Kabanda, Kiryatete, Kisege and Kacuru. Those in Kikuube are Bulinga, Wangjok, Kiina, Kachunde, Busigi, Nsunzu and Ususa among others while those to be closed in Buliisa are Kawaibanda, Tuugo Mbili, Chula, Masaka, Katonge, Wankende, Kigagaizi, Bubwe and Kololo among others. 

Lake Albert employs approximately 56,000 fishermen who harvest more than 100,000 tons of fish per year. Overall, fishing supports the livelihood of more than 1.6 million people in Uganda. The proposed closure of the landing sites hasn’t gone down well with fishermen. 

John Bamuturaki, a fisherman at Kabolwa landing site in Buliisa district, says closing the landing sites will negatively impact on their livelihoods, adding most of them have established permanent settlements on the landing sites and have nowhere to go.

//Cue in; ”My study all…      

Cue out…put some measures.”//    

Gilbert Owinja, a fisherman at Bugoma landing site in Kikuube district, denies claims that the ungazetted landing sites are facilitating the entry of Congolese nationals into the country. He instead accuses some security officers of pocketing bribes from the Congolese nationals to allow them into the country. 

Owinja says the closure of the landing sites might compel some of the youths involved in fishing to resort to petty crime for survival.

//Cue in; ”an kakayi endiye…    

Cue out…de wa dhanu.”//   

Joseph Balinda, a fisherman at Waaki landing site in Hoima district, says hundreds of fishermen derive their livelihood from the lake, arguing that closing them could be disastrous to their families.   

//Cue in; “Itwe nka abantu…  

Cue out…surviving Nabantu abantu.”//     

There are over 400 landing sites on the Lake Albert in Bunyoro sub-region stretching up to Ntoroko district.  

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