The Ministry of Agriculture has kicked off an exercise that will see 110 hectares of floating island cleared on Lake Victoria.
According to the State Minister for Agriculture, Hellen Ondoa, following the April, 14 incident at Nalubaale dam that saw the entire country experience a power blackout caused by a floating island, government kicked off efforts to clear the lake of the suds.
“Today there are about 100 hectares of floating weeds in Portbell and 10 hectares of floating weeds in Jinja all being worked on mechanically,”Ondoa said on Tuesday morning while launching clearing works at Port Bell.
He said that there are also other problem areas where many floating islands are roaming including at Bunjako Bay (Mpigi/Kalungu), Sango Bay and River Kagera (Kyotera), and Fielding and Thruston Bays (Jinja/Mayuga).
She noted that all these pose a threat to the reinfection of the dam.
According to Ondoa, the Agriculture Ministry has put in place an operation plan that has seen clearing equipment including excavators, dump trucks, self-loading trucks, fisheries research vessels and ferries deployed at Nalubaale dam, Port Bell in Luzira.
“The objective is to break the floating weeds into small masses and then harvested to avert a threat in case they escape to the dam or move to landing sites,” Minister Ondoa said.
He noted that so far, 30 hectares of floating weed have been harvested at the dam.
The Minister explained that four drone imagery surveys have been conducted at Port Bell and one in Jinja as one of the ways to keep a close watch on the floating island movements and aver danger
She noted that the surveillance work is done by a team from UPDF.
The Ministry also says that the bigger challenge lies ahead on Lake Kyoga which is affected by many floating islands.
“The Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries is working with other stakeholders to undertake surveillance and monitoring on Lake Kyoga to ascertain the current abundance and distribution of weed mats with the aim of unblocking and dredging the lake in the near future,” she said.
The Minister however noted that the floating islands have been made inevitable by the rise in the water levels that has detached huge chunks of land and vegetation from the mainland in various parts of the country close to the lakes.
“The rising water levels have had a great impact on the state of fisheries in the country affecting fishermen, fishing industries and those processing fish because the water is fatal. By harvesting the suds, the fish population will be salvaged,” Minister Ondoa said.
She noted that technical teams working on clearing the floating islands have been drawn from the Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries, Ministry of Works and Transport, Ministry of Water and Environment, Ministry of Energy and Mineral Development, UPDF, Eskom Uganda Limited and National Agricultural Research Organization (NARO).