SERERE– Shs 2.7 billion fish handling facility at Kagwara landing site in Serere district remains unused after being completed 13 years ago.
The Ministry of Agriculture Animal Industry and Fisheries [MAAIF] constructed the facility under the Fisheries Development Project, with support from African Development Bank.
The facility had been built to ensure the best fish harvesting practices and reduce post-harvest losses that Serere fish traders were suffering.
In 2009, the district leadership under the stewardship of the former LCV chairperson Joseph Okojo declined to receive the facility from the contractor, citing shoddy work. The facility has since then been lying idle.
The facility located in Kagwara town council has cracked walls, and some parts of the roof have blown off. The facility has broken window panes, and the ceiling peeled off.
Sam Okoit, one of the fishermen said since 2009 when the district leaders refused to receive the facility, bats and rats, cockroaches among others have been the bonafide occupants of the building.
Bernard Ariengu, the chairperson fish protection unit at Kagwara landing site, blamed MAAIF, accusing it of failing to rectify the defects in the facility.
He claimed that many complaints by the Serere district leaders to MAAIF over shoddy works have been ignored.
“In March 2020, Serere district demanded an audit into the facility, following, but up to date the line ministry has remained silent over the matter,” said Eringu.
Robert Onguratum, the chairperson Kasilo fishermen Emyooga Sacco, told theCooperator that in 2017, the fishing community together with local leaders demonstrated over the idle fish handling facility to get government’s attention.
He disclosed that apart from substandard work, the construction of the facility was not fully completed.
“While government had the goodwill to revitalise fishing, the idle fish facility has turned out to mock the fishing community in Kagwara town council,” he explained.
Bernard Odikor, the LCIII chairperson Kagwara town council, said he was concerned the project did not meet its intended purpose.
“The incomplete facility has discredited government’s efforts of improving the livelihoods, especially among the fishing community,” said Odikor.
However, State Minister for Fisheries, Helen Adoa Abeku who also doubles as the woman member of parliament for Serere district said that she is following up on the matter.
“It’s not only Serere having complaints of idle fish facilities but even the districts of Mayuge and Nakasongola, which received similar projects of Shs 113 billion Shillings funding from African Development Bank share the same fate,” she noted.
The minister has asked fishermen and district leaders to be patient as government looks at possible ways to have the idle fish facilities operationalised.
Besides, my dream is to build fish handling facilities in every big landing site like Mulondo and Kagwara,” Adoa said.
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