Elegu, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Activities at Arua city offices on Thursday came to a hold after a group of more than 200 hundred fishmongers stormed the office of the Resident City commissioner protesting the impounding of their fish.
The fish mongers, who are mostly women threatened to strip naked if the fish they bought using their hard-earned money was not released.
They accused Uganda People’s Defence Forces-UPDF soldiers of impounding six trucks for allegedly carrying immature fish from the neighbouring South Sudan for more than two weeks now.
According to the traders five of the trucks were impounded at Elegu Border post along the Uganda-South Sudan Border and the other was impounded at Pakwach Revenue check point in Pakwach district while on their way to Arua city.
Bako Zubedah, a fishmonger at Arua central market wondered why government authorities had not come up to give them clear information as to why their fish was impounded and yet the fish was cleared by South Sudanese authorities.
“Why would the government impound our fish and let us suffer? We don’t have money to feed our families and send children to school. We demand the government to release our fish, said Zubedah.
Meanwhile, Monica Ramulah, the vice chairperson for Arua market women fish mongers association explains that the decision of the Ugandan government to impound their fish has condemned them to misery since they can no longer sustain the livelihood of their families.
Charles Ichogor, the Arua Resident City Commissioner called for calm among the aggrieved fish mongers and pledged to ensure that their fish consignments are released.
But, Dr. Ronald Debo, the chairperson Uganda Chamber of commerce and industry for Arua city branch appeals to the Ugandan and South Sudan governments to address the challenge of importing immature fish from the source instead of subjecting innocent traders to such losses.
When contacted, officials at Elegu border post declined to comment on the matter. In November 2023, Uganda Revenue Officials impounded two trucks containing a consignment of imported fish over alleged irregularities in recording the tonnage at the weighbridge at Elegu border.
For over three years now, the Nile catfish, an imported fish from South Sudan has changed fortunes for many people in Arua city due to the high demand in the neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo.
Meanwhile, many youths earn their living from the thriving fish trade through off –loading the fish.
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