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Security Cautioned Against Aiding Illegal Activities on Lake Albert

The Ugandan border with the Democratic Republic of Congo was closed in March, as part of a lockdown occasioned by the outbreak of the COVID-19 Pandemic. Subsequently, the government heavily deployed teams comprising Uganda Peoples Defense Forces-UPDF and Uganda Police Force to guard the closed Border along the shores of Lake Albert.
Major General Okiding, the Commander UPDF Masindi Field Artillery Division in an interview with URN.Photo by Emmanuel Okello.

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Top Security officers in the Albertine region have warned some of their own against taking advantage of the ongoing lockdown to aid illegal activities on the lake Albert.  

The Ugandan border with the Democratic Republic of Congo was closed in March, as part of a lockdown occasioned by the outbreak of the COVID-19 Pandemic. Subsequently, the government heavily deployed teams comprising Uganda Peoples Defense Forces-UPDF and Uganda Police Force to guard the closed Border along the shores of Lake Albert.

However, members of the public in the districts of Kikuube, Hoima and Buliisa have severally accused the UPDF and Police personnel of conniving with DRC businessmen who continue entering the country through Lake Albert creating a risk for spreading the COVID-19 virus in the Albertine region.

Major General Sam Okiding, the Commander of the UPDF Field Artillery Division in Masindi has warned the security teams against engaging in such illegal activities. Okiding says his office has received complaints from area residents pinning the officers for soliciting bribes from DRC nationals to allow them to enter the country.

Okiding tasked Ugandans settling along the shores of Lake Albert to avail his office with information about officers carrying out illegal activities on the lake saying the role of the deployed officers is to stop the illegal entry of DRC nationals and not to facilitate illegalities.

//cue in;” Security is not…

Cue out:…stay in harmony.”//

He also called upon the residents to be vigilant and added that the security team cannot maintain the security of the entire Albertine Graben in isolation.

The Area Resident District Commissioner-RDC Samuel Kisembo says it is wrong to allow foreign nationals to cross into the country at a time when Uganda is struggling to contain a lethal virus.

Kisembo says that soldiers who were involved in illegalities are under investigation.

//Cue in; ”It is wrong…

Cue out…to this country.”//

According to Kisembo, the only activities that are allowed to take place on the lake are day fishing and transportation of Cargo that has been cleared by Uganda Revenue Authority-URA through the gazetted entry points at Kaiso in Hoima and Sebigoro in Kikuube.

//Cue in;” Apart from day…

Cue out:…That is unacceptable.”//

Patrick Musinguzi, a resident of Kaiso Landing Site says the security personnel have turned the lake into a source of livelihood, disregarding all security and social threats from their activities.  He wants the government to allow fishermen to resume their normal operations since even the deployment did not come as a solution to the threats posed by the pandemic.

//Cue in;” It is quiet…

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Augustus Kyaligonza, a resident of Bugoma landing site in Kikuube district questions the role of top security personnel in the region saying they have failed to supervise their juniors.

//Cue in; ”Batuwera nku ba…

Cue out…Ku kyetekereza ki.”//

In April, the Kikuube district COVID-19 taskforce accused security personnel operating along the Lake Albert shores of allegedly receiving bribes from the Congolese nationals to aid their illegal entry into the country something they said is frustrating their efforts of combating the spread of the disease.

Kikuube, Hoima, Buliisa and Kagadi districts in Bunyoro sub-region are at the porous border points with the Eastern part of the Democratic Republic of Congo which is also battling the deadly COVID-19 pandemic and Ebola Zaire cases.

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