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What The Reopening Of Fish Market Means For Ugandans

by Jacquiline Nakandi
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By Samuel Amanyire

On June 4, fish traders from the border area between Uganda and DR Congo gathered at the Mpondwe-Lhubiriha fish market in Mpondwe Lhubiriha town council, Kasese district, to celebrate its relocation to Uganda after nearly four years of closure due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The market’s reopening was led by Lt Col Mercy Tukahirwa, the commander of the Fisheries Protection Unit of Uganda.

The market had been claimed by DR Congo following President Yoweri Museveni’s 2020 closure order to prevent the spread of COVID-19, which had impacted the entire world.

Mary Biira, 57, a fish trader in Mpondwe Lhubiriha town council, expressed relief at the reopening of the fish market.

She said this development would enable her to settle her outstanding loans with various financial institutions and provide financial support to her two children, who are currently struggling to pay their university tuition.

“I cannot adequately express the happiness I feel,” Biira said.

Sulaiman Machozi, who is involved in fish transportation and also serves as the National Resistance Movement chairperson of Mpondwe Lhubiriha town council, said the reopening of the market would create employment opportunities for over 800 people, both skilled and unskilled, particularly the youth.

These positions would include drivers and labourers, facilitating the efficient distribution of fish.

“They will have the opportunity to earn a living, which will prevent them from falling prey to undesirable influences, particularly rebel groups seeking recruits,” he said.

Moses Mugisa, the town clerk of Mpondwe-Lhubiriha, said the relocation of the fish market from the DR Congo back to Uganda signifies a potential annual revenue increase for the town council.

He added that previously, before the COVID-19 outbreak, the market would generate over sh600m in annual revenue when it operated in Uganda.

Mpondwe-Lhubiriha town council LC3 chairperson Selevester Mapoze announced that the reopening of the fish market would facilitate the refurbishment of dilapidated roads and the clearance of accumulated garbage within the town council.

These efforts aim to prepare the area for its anticipated transition to municipality status.

Godfrey Kabbyanga, the state minister for national guidance, said the return of the fish market would prompt the Government to prioritise the construction of key roads, particularly the Kikorongo-Mpondwe road.

This infrastructure development is essential for ensuring efficient transportation of fish and other goods to and from Uganda.

Tukahirwa addressed the gathering, stating that over 1,000 businesswomen engaged in the fish business at the Mpondwe border had suffered job losses due to the market’s closure.

Expressing optimism, she said reopening the market would alleviate many challenges faced by the business community.

Tukahirwa encouraged Ugandans to sell their fish within the country’s markets, emphasising its potential to bolster the economy.

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