Fishermen urge gov’t to suspend eviction till it lifts Covid-19 lockdown

Families of evicted fishermen. (Photo credit: William Kyalisiima

Hundreds of fishermen at Lake Albert’s Nana, Fofo and Rwentale landing sites in Tonya Parish, Buseruka Sub-county in Hoima District want government to postpone the eviction exercise until the Covid-19 lockdown is lifted.

Early this month, the Land Forces Chief of Staff in the Uganda People’s Defence Forces (UPDF), Maj Gen Eric Leopold Kyanda, said government targets to close 200 illegal landing sites in Bunyoro sub-region.

He said this would be in two phases with the first involving 61 illicit landing sites having already started.

Now, the fishermen want government to suspend the exercise to give them ample time to prepare themselves where to relocate.

Mr Gilbert Ajua, a fisherman at Rwentale fishing village says the eviction has left them between a hard ground and a rock since they do not have any means of transport to other landing sites.

“The eviction exercise is harsh because we do not have any means of transport to carry our property to other areas. Our young children cannot walk the long distances to other landing sites,” he said.

The Fofo landing site vice chairman, Mr John Munguriek, fears that the eviction exercise may have negative health impacts on the population since many fishermen and their families are overcrowding at other landing sites.

“The eviction is causing havoc and it is likely to lead to the outbreak of diseases like Covid-19 since the evictees cannot observe the health standards like social distancing due to overcrowding,” says Mr Munguriek.

Mr Geoffrey Komakech, the district councillor for Buseruka sub-county, accuses the government of “not putting appropriate measures to relocate the fishermen.”

However, former Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) supporter and ex- mayor for Hoima municipality, Mr Francis Atugonza, supports the exercise saying it is saving people from catching coronavirus.

He is unhappy with politicians opposing the exercise.

“Sometimes that is why I hate politics. Some politicians support bad things and hate good things. They politicise schemes with intent to garner votes yet certain things are detrimental to people’s lives. Let all people support the eviction exercise for the betterment of all Ugandans,” he said.

Mr William Kyalisiima, a Lay Reader attached to Kiryamboga Church of Uganda (COU) at Kiryamboga landing site in Buseruka sub-county told this website on phone on Sunday that some evicted fishermen and their families had pitched camp at Kiryamboga COU and Kiryamboga Catholic Church before the village chairman intervened.

“Fishermen and their families from Nana fishing village had found their way to Kiryamboga Church of Uganda and Kiryamboga Catholic Church calling for the intervention of the village chairman to intervene and took them away,” Mr Kyalisiima said.

“The fishermen complained about lack of transport to carry their household property to other landing sites. They also complain that their young children cannot walk the long distances to other landing sites,” he added.

Reacting to the complaints, the Hoima Resident District Commissioner, Mr Samuel Kisembo Araali, insists that the eviction exercise will continue and nobody will sabotage it.

State Minister for Public Service cum Kigorobya constituency Member of Parliament in Hoima district, Mr David Karubanga, also insists that the eviction exercise will continue to be implemented to prevent the transmission of Covid-19 pandemic.

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