Fishermen at Wakawaka landing site located in Bulidha sub county in Bugiri district have abandoned fishing and resorted to burning and selling charcoal as a source of income.
The change in economic activity, some of the people said, was due to the harsh tactics employed by the UPDF to stamp out illegal fishing.
Many fishermen said they had been victims of UPDF’s brutality on the landing site that has three villages including Wakawaka, Nakawa, and Kibuye with a total population of 2, 320.
Elizefan Mugwati 75 years, a former fisherman at Wakawaka landing site told The Nile Post that Wakawaka landing site was founded in 1980 and many tribes including; Bagwere, Basamia, Banyori, Basoga, Bagishu, and the Joluas from Kenya occupied the area.
“As a fisherman I disagree with government intervention in the fishing activities because people who were developing the area were chased away by the soldiers claiming they are carrying out illegal fishing. Those very soldiers that are torturing fishermen also engage in selling off young fish,” he said.
Samuel Mubenge, recently abandoned fishing and started cutting down trees to set up a charcoal business.
Mubenge said fishing was a lucrative activity because many youths benefited.
He said fishing helped them educate their children, meet their medical costs and improve on their diet.
Fazili Wairaka, a local leader at the site said their problems were addressed to government for
intervention but all in vain.
Wairaka said the National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) has also warned against engaging in charcoal business because it leads to destruction of the environment.
“I think this matter should be addressed directly to President Museveni otherwise we are likely to demonstrate because some of my people have died after being tortured by soldiers,” he said.
He said revenue collection on the site has reduced from Shs 20 million to Shs 12 million.