Independent presidential candidate, retired Lt. Gen. Henry Tumukunde has promised the people of Buyende district, Busoga sub-region that he will, once voted into power, withdraw all the armed forces from the fishing industry so that civilians can benefit from it.
“I will return things as they were because it is here where I started seeing military do everything yet we have functional institutions. Wherever that policy of involving the army in everything came from, I don’t know but you will overcome this,” Tumukunde said.
He made these remarks after a section of fishermen told him that officers from the Uganda People’s Defense Forces were brutalizing them on the rivers for carrying out fishing, their major source of income.
Ivan Yeko, a fisherman from Budiope East, said that they have lost their loved ones who are always flogged to death and others shot by the patrolling soldiers.
“We are living in fear, no working and nothing is moving on, they tell us to work but afterwards kill us in the line of our duty,” Yeko said.
Robert Ndigiti from Irundwe Trading Center said that people also face hardships while transporting their merchandize on water.
“We are also having difficulty in transport, they stopped us from using boats yet there are no roads that connect Irundwe to some parts like Iyingo,” he said.
It should be noted that president Museveni, in 2015, deployed the army to regulate illegal fishing activities that were going on different lakes and rivers and this came after the increased catch of undersize Nile Perch fish species, which led to the drop in fish stocks.
After cries from fishermen, the army was temporarily withdrawn from the waters which led to resumption of illegal fishing. It was then re-deployed on some fishermen’s request.