Bugesera – The Mayor of Bugesera District, Louis Rwagaju, has said that the dangers caused by crocodiles in his district were blown out of proportion.
Rwagaju was reacting to recent media reports that crocodiles in Bugesera were becoming a public threat.
He said that most of the crocodile victims in the district were illegal fishermen who took cover of the night to go fishing.
“It is true that there are crocodiles in most waters in the district...of course the reptiles are in their natural habitat. But the majority of the victims had gone fishing at night, without proper equipment,” he said.
The Mayor said that fishing was restricted to cooperatives and warned individuals who risked their lives to end the practice.
He noted that those who persistently breached the order would be punished by relevant authorities.
“We have set restrictions and penalties ...I want to be clear that illegal fishing must stop. The law is clear and won’t be lenient to anyone”.
Jean Damascene Nibigenga, 55, a resident of Ririma Sector who has, for long, been engaged in fishing activities, said that fishing can be dangerous when done in a disorganised manner.
He added that cooperatives trained residents and equipped them with tools necessary to start fishing.
“It is unfortunate that some greedy people risk their lives in the waters...the boats they use are too weak and are easily hit by either hippos or crocodiles. The deaths we talk about are of that nature...when one drops in the water, what do you expect? Let everyone interested join cooperatives,” he advised.
Richard Habimana, another resident, however, complained that some people risked their lives to go into the waters at night, because it was not easy for them to join the cooperatives.
“We all want to join fishing cooperatives, but for a long-time, members make it difficult for us. Fish business makes good money, which is why people risk their lives. So, let the authorities restructure the cooperatives,” he noted.