Works to clear the floating island that invaded some parts of Lake Victoria blocking several landing sites in Kampala and Jinja are still ongoing according to government.
On Friday, the State Minister for Agriculture in charge of Fisheries, Hellen Adoa inspected the ongoing works at Masese landing site in Jinja.
Speaking to the local fishing community, Adoa said whereas efforts to clear the floating island have continued for the past two months, the weed has not yet been completely removed from the lake.
“I call upon all of your stakeholders to be calm, efforts will continue to avert threats of weed invasions with the aim to reduce the weed infestations to levels where they don’t cause negative ecological and socio-economic impacts,”Adoa said.
She noted that Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries will continue working with other stakeholders to undertake surveillance and monitoring on Lakes Victoria and `Kyoga to ascertain the current abundance and distribution of weed mats with the aim of unblocking and dredging the lake in the near future.
Locals speak out
The Jinja Municipal Council deputy mayor, Asiimwe Mbabazi said there is need to sensitize locals especially famers to control activities done around the lake shores and rivers banks that she said are the main cause of the floating islands.
“Our people cultivate on the lake shores which makes land loose and later breaks off to form floating islands. We need to sensitize them to at least plant trees that hold the land on the shores firm,”Mbabazi said.
Masese village LC one chairman, Majid Magumba blasted the Ministry of Agriculture and its officials for not always consulting locals before embarking on the activities to remove the floating weed.
“On many occasions, they have ended up removing papyrus which has been around for many years. The papyrus acts as breeding sites for fish but also as a sieve to clean water. When it is removed, fish runs away but also the water is not cleaned,” Magumba said.
“They should always consult us while implementing the program so that we are also involved in giving some little advice.”
Philemon Kudere, another fisherman said because of the activities to remove the floating weed, their fish cages have been destroyed.
Speaking in response, Minister Adoa said they will always involve the locals in whatever they do but warned them against activities like farming near the lake shores that have contributed to the floating islands.
“The floating island that led to the countrywide power blackout had yams, cassava, potatoes and other gardens.Bad agriculture practices in the lake shore must be discouraged,”Adoa said.