Fourteen legislators from fishing communities have demanded that UPDF personnel be removed from the fishing areas citing torture and hostility against fishermen.
The group of MPs met President Yoweri Museveni on December 10 this year over the UPDF’s operations against illegal fishing on Lake Victoria and islands including Buvuma, Kalangala and Bukoli.
The MPs include; Robert Ndugwa Migadde, Aidah Nabayega, Jenifer Nantume Egunyu, Muyanja Ssenyonga, Abbot Ouma, David Mutebi, Hope Mukisa and Peace Kusasira.
The MPs who addressed the press on Wednesday say the army has been accused of torturing fishermen much as their presence has resulted in reduced price of a kilogram of the Nile Perch from Shs 15,000 to Shs 8,000 due to increased fish deliveries in the last 5 months.
Ouma said that the MPs asked the President to direct Ministries of; Trade and Finance to lift the ban on all fishing gear imports and tax exemptions on appropriate fishing gear so as to reduce cost of setting up a single fishing boat from Shs 20 million to Shs 15 million.
Buvuma County MP, Robert Migadde Ndugwa said that they do not support illegal fishing but are opposed to methods used by the army.
“We don’t expect any sane MP to be against the cleaning of the lake but like any other operation, there are issues that come along the way and we need to handle them,” Migadde said.
Kalangala Woman MP, Aidah Nabayega said; “We met the President last weekend and we reported the harsh treatment of fishermen by the UPDF officers, they destroy peoples’ houses, use too much force and they are treating people inhumanely, which must stop.”
Nabayega also demanded that the President honours pledges he made in the past in regards to improving service delivery in transport, health and education in the islands and fishing communities.
Nabayega noted that the MPs found difficulties during consultations on the age limit removal bill as the result of pending pledges by the President.
Other MPs who belong to the group like Nathan Nabeta missed the press briefing at Parliament but agree with issues raised and solutions suggested.