Buvuma fishing community under their umbrella organisation Hooks Association have demanded 8 billion shillings compensation for damages inflicted on them by the Uganda People’s Defence Forces (UPDF). They also want a report on the matter from the Parliament committee of agriculture.
The group from Lufu Nairambi island led by Bukumunhe Waswa, Lukoya Jamadha, Musasizi Geoffrey and others have since 2017 petitioned the concerned authorities to report torture, extortion, robbery and loss of lives at the hands of UPDF soldiers. They accuse Captain Alituha Steven and Major Niwagaba James of leading these rogue soldiers.
The issue attracted debate on the floor of parliament in September 2018. Deputy speaker Jacob Ollanyah directed the committee of fisheries and animal husbandry to investigate the matter with immediate effect.
Four months down the road, the petitioners are yet to see the report.
One of the people waiting for the report is Lukoya Jamdha whose family life was turned upside down. Lukoya claims, “I was tortured by the UPDF marines who confiscated my boat engines, recommended hooks size 9. On top of all the losses, my daughter Shamim Nangobi from St. Henry primary school lost her certificates during the eviction and she failed to join secondary school. Her elder sister was also unable to sit for her senior four exams because I no longer had money to pay her school dues.”
Bukumunhe Waiswa says, “I was robbed of 2000 size 9 recommended hooks, 540 KGS of fish, life jackets and boat engines. We are at the mercy of UPDF and as I speak now, I don’t have any business. ”
The group want to be compensated for all the losses they have suffered.
Legislators Henry Morris Bibalya (Bugabula south) and Muyanja Ssenyonga (Mukono south) explain the delay. Kibalya blames the delay on the defence ministers refusal to respond on the UPDF torture allegations. They also admit that the committe was distracted by other concerns at the time.
Ssenyonga admits, “I have never seen that report and I doubt if the committee reached Koome island where hundreds of fishermen lost properties. I am ready to bring another petition to the speaker to address the concerns of the fishermen.”
However, the chairperson of agricultural committee Robert Migadde when reached for a comment about the delayed report disclosed that their budget was reduced and they only managed to visit 4 landing sites. The report will be tabled on the floor of parliament next week.
Below are the key findings:
1- The committee found that on some islands , namely Buvuma and Namayingo, the fishermen have been and still be tortured by the army .
2- The fishing community does not have any a special attention from government programs like NAADS.
3- Parliament should amend the current existing laws to give authority for any operation of UPDF to the waters of Lake Victoria.
4- The committee has also recommended compensation for all the tortured fishermen, families of those who lost their lives and property. The matter should be decided on by court.