Members under the fisher’s cooperatives in Busia district have asked the government to withdraw UPDF soldiers’ attached to fisheries protection unit on lake Victoria and Albert.
The fishers cooperators made the appeal while meeting with members of the parliamentary committee on agriculture, animal industry and fisheries (MAAIF) at Busia main market’s fish section.
The committee led by Janet G Akechi Okori- Moe the woman member of parliament Abim district was on the ground to get fishers views on reported cases of torture, extortion, and harassment by soldiers attached to fisheries protection unit.
The fishermen said they have been maimed, tortured and their vehicles forfeited by soldier attached to the unit.
Betty Nekesa a member of Busia fish mongers cooperative said, business has collapsed, can’t afford fees for their children and Banks have attached property over failure to pay loans.
Kamali Banuri the chairperson Busia fisheries association which also has a Sacco said, despite their members dealing in inch five fish which is recommended, the soldiers still arrested, impound fish and ask for bribes.
” They have never sensitized traders from Lake Albert but they have gone to arrest and prosecuted them,” he said.
Speaking on her committee’s behalf, Aketch said the committee has registered several complaints from fishers which she noted compelled it to come down on the ground to listen to fishing folk views.
She asked the fishers to back their claims with shreds of evidence of paying bribes, torture so as to help it carry out investigations and pin the culprits.
” We are not going to give you an immediate solution,” she said, adding the committee is going around the country to gather views and make it’s recommendations thereafter.
She, however, condemned the torturing of the fishers and directed the residents’ district commissioner in the districts neighboring lake Victoria to stop soldiers from battering fishers.
The Mukono district woman member of parliament received a rude welcome from the fishers when she asked them to vote for the NRM in the Busia district by-election.
Patrick Kinyatta the chairperson Busia market vendors association asked the committee to pick interest in the fishers concerns and address it appropriately.
Cpt. Ssebukera who commands the unit did not attend the meeting.