Fishermen operating in Lake Kivu have been urged to take internal measures and work closely with police to ensure security in the lake.
Inspector of Police Alexis Bukuru from the Rwanda National Police (RNP) marine unit made the call on Thursday while meeting about 80 fishermen from Karongi District.
Bukuru noted that although cases related to maritime are rare, "even a single crime can be eliminated if those in water-related business worked closely with the Police."
The meeting aimed at mobilising people with businesses in Lake Kivu to make personal and joint efforts to fight and prevent all sorts of crimes committed on water bodies.
According to Bukuru identified smuggling of goods including traditional wear commonly known as kitenge, expensive alcoholic drinks such as wines and spirits, trafficking of drugs and other unauthorised or banned goods among others, as some of the common crimes reported in Lake Kivu.
Illegal fishing including using substandard or unauthorised nets, is also another unlawful act reported in water bodies.
IP Bukuru advised those wishing to engage in fishing to first seek authorisation while transporters should always ensure they don’t over load boats.
“Most boats capsize due to over loading. This malpractice needs to stop,” he said calling for more commitment among fishers to ensure safety standards.
He also asked those involved in water transport to always wear life jackets and provide them to their passengers.
He further asked them to pass on timely information to security organs regarding those suspected to be involved in any unlawful act or those who attempt to use water transport to smuggle goods and narcotic drugs.
Celestin Simarinka the head of UCOPEVEKA, a cooperative of fishermen in Lake Kivu, also appealed to members not to engage or aid criminal and illegal business, instead report such people that try to use water bodies as a route for their unlawful activities.
“We spend much of our time in waters trying to earn a living. We therefore have to take a primary responsibility to ensure security in these waters,” Simarinka said, reminding fellow fishersmen to avoid using substandard fishing nets which endanger immature species.