PAKWACH. The Pakwach resident district commissioner (RDC) has suspended security operations along the Panyimur- Dei catchment areas on Lake Albert and the Albert Nile as campaigns for 2021 general elections resume.
Mr Swaib Toko, in an interview with West Nile Web on Saturday said he has registered concerns and complaints from fishermen who predominantly derive their livelihood from fishing of harassment, breaking of their canoes and boats by security agencies and he is worried that locals may retaliate by not voting massively for President Museveni in the general elections.
"I have spoken this in our security meetings and soon I will address the top officer in charge to temporarily suspend operations in Dei and Panyimur as we head to the general elections", he said.
His concerns also come in the wake of outcry by the fishermen at the two main landing sites of Panyimur and Dei who accused the marine police officers of arresting and confiscating their fishing gears.
At Dei landing site that harbours an estimated 500 fishing boats, the fishermen said they have suffered in the hands of marine police officers who often beat them at night accusing them of violating curfew hours and depleting fish species.
According to Mr Jonathan Opar, the chairperson of the landing site, the call by the RDC will instill confidence in the masses who also want arbitration sanctioned with the Congolese soldiers who are reportedly also arresting and harassing Ugandan fishermen caught in parts of Congo Nile.
"The government delayed to come to our rescue, now that the RDC has listened to the suffering, as chairperson, let those fishing equipment confiscated be compensated”, he asserted.
Mr Kennedy Omirambe, another fisherman, wants the RDC to institute a team to investigate the actions of a section of the area leaders for exorbitantly levying unnecessary charges to facilitate the marine police officers for fuel during their operation.
Omirambe is afraid that the act is an avenue of exploiting the fishermen and is optimistic that the fund collected is unaccounted for as no receipt is issued to confirm payments.
"In addition to stopping the police, I want us to be told why we pay shs100,000 monthly without any receipt, this is theft we want the RDC to also help to address" Omirambe said.
However, Mr Nathan Othoro, the officer in charge of Marine police at Dei disputed the claims saying they are fully facilitated adding those implicated will answer as individuals but not as a force.
He said they want to foster cordial working relationships with the fishing community also expressing readiness to comply with the RDCs directive as soon as they are furnished with the authorisation letter.
He however maintained that their mandate as Marine is to ensure maintenance of law and order within Uganda’s water bodies, monitor and coordinate search and rescue operations on waters.