60 fishermen arrested for flouting curfew, released on police bond

Fishermen preparing their nets at Kaiso landing site on Lake Albert in Hoima District recently.

The 60 fishermen who were arrested in Hoima and Kikuube districts for defying the Covid-19 preventive guidelines have been released on police bond.

The Albertine regional police spokesperson, Mr Julius Allan Hakiza, told this website that the fishermen who were picked up fishing on Lake Albert on Sunday night in violation of the curfew have been released to avoid congestion in the cells.

He said this was done to follow the Ministry of Health guidelines to observe social distancing since the fishermen were too many and could pose a health risk to them.

The police officer added that the police did this “as a constitutional human right “for the fishermen to be given police bond.

The affected fishermen are from Kaiso, Kyehorro and Mbegu landing sites in Buseruka, Kabwoya and Kabaale sub-counties. The fishermen were picked up in a joint operation involving the army and Uganda Police Force.

Mr Hakiza said that the arrested fishermen had first been locked up at Kaiso police station pending transfer to Hoima central police station.

According to Hakiza, during the operation, 17 fishing boats, seven boat engines and 30 solar batteries were impounded from the fishermen.

In March, the Hoima and Kikuube district security committees suspended fishing activities on Lake Albert during night hours as a means of stopping further spread of COVID-19.

The decision was in line with a curfew announced by President Yoweri Museveni.

The committee observed that some Ugandan fishermen cross to the Democratic Republic of Congo and mix freely with communities on the other side before crossing back to Uganda which exposes them to infection.

However, fishermen have been protesting the decision saying stopping them from fishing endangers their lives since they entirely depend on the lake for survival.

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