Overwhelmed by accusations of corruption against soldiers deployed to fight illegal fishing on Uganda’s lakes, President Yoweri Museveni is threatening to recall all the soldiers he deployment on the lakes in 2017 under the Fisheries Protection Unit (FPU).
Addressing NRM delegates from the districts of Kamuli and Buyende on Saturday, Museveni who is also the National Resistance Movement (NRM) presidential flag bearer said that while he deployed the FPU to clean up the lake, some officers have taken to extortion from fishermen with illegal fishing gears which undermines the core principles of their operations.
Museveni justified the deployment of soldiers to enforce good fishing practices on the lakes saying that the fishing communities who are the core beneficiaries of the lake resources have been infiltrated by “undisciplined elements who don’t value fisheries resources, which warranted for the institution of FPU as a measure to protect fish species from depletion.”
To his disappointment, Museveni has discovered that some of the law enforcers are instead engaging in the vice and have now turned into fish mongers thereby undermining the aims of the operation which requires them to desist from engaging in the fish trade as it would entice them into corruption.
The president has thus tasked the indigenous communities along the shores and fish landing sites to select committees mandated with conserving fish resources within the lakes of Victoria and Kyoga so as to foster sustainability of the fisheries resources.
Such committees, Museveni said, will ease the removal of FPU from the lake as they will be a civilian force to protect the lakes from exploitation.
The president’s spoke in response to fears by NRM leaders that the party has become unpopular within the fishing communities due to torture and corruption tendencies exhibited by FPU personnel.
FPU commenced its operations of fighting illegal fishing across Uganda’s water bodies in 2017 but they have attracted public criticism over torture and extortion.