The number of fishermen drowning in Lake Kyoga continues to alarm residents with at least 7 victims dead in the past two months due to strong winds and conflicts over fishing grounds.
Authorities identify the latest victims are Bazilio Ouma of Dagala Landing site and John Kigayaza from Kacanga landing sites who drowned in the lake over the weekend, and others from Kibuye, Zengebe and Kikalaganya from Nakasongola district.
The seven cases were all recorded between July and August this year, according to Sam Kigula, the Nakasongola District LC 5 Chairman.
Mr. Kigula explains that some of the fishermen drowned during clashes over control of fishing areas in the lake as a result of withdraw of the UPDF Fisheries Protection Unit from Lake Kyoga. He adds that several fishermen have gazetted fishing grounds using stamps in the lake, which leads to clashes whenever another fisherman tries to encroach on the area.
“When they go in the water they don’t have life jackets, when waves come, it is obvious boats overturn. The problem with our people is they estimate weather changes, when they see clouds in the sky they don’t go, and when they see sunshine, they do not know weather might change” he said.
One of the fishermen Nelson Muruli, a resident of Lwabyata Sub County, blames the rampant conflicts for creating panic among members of the fishing communities, calling for police intervention to curb the fights.
Kalungi sub county LC 3 Chairperson, Fred Byabagambe, argues that other fishermen drowned when their small boat capsized because of strong winds, prompting his leadership to launch an operation to compel all fishermen to buy life jackets and recommended boats before venturing into the lake to reduce the deaths.