Thursday May 22 2014

Fish traders accuse law enforcement officers of extortion

By Hudson Apunyo

Lira- Lira fish traders have accused fisheries law enforcement officers of extortion, corruption and illegal confiscation of their fish and nets.

A group of fish traders from Lira market, most of them women, made the complaint during a meeting convened by the Resident District Commissioner, Mr George Odongo, on Monday.

The chairperson Lira Fish Traders Association, Mr Joel Atua, said the law enforcers are extorting money by staging roadblocks instead of being at landing sites where they are supposed to sensitise fishermen.

“When they find us with big fish, they accuse us of killing those which were multiplying. When we are found with the small ones, we are accused of having immature fish. Their only interest is extortion,” Mr Atua said.

Mr Atua said the fish traders are mainly widows, most of whom are living with HIV and operating on loans.

Mr Amran Tumusiime, the head of fisheries enforcement team for Lake Kyoga-North Region, said it’s unfortunate that his staff is implicated. He said as soon as he received the complaints, one of the officers was suspended pending investigation.

“We don’t condone corruption and cases of indiscipline, we are not here to harass, intimidate or malice people,” Mr Tumusiime said.