Lake Zone is heavily populated, finish diminishing, crime rising

22Sep 2021
The Guardian
Lake Zone is heavily populated, finish diminishing, crime rising

POLICE are making frantic efforts to eradicate crime in Lake Victoria, going by recent remarks made in Mwanza Region by long-serving Commissioner of Police Liberatus Sabas.

The head of operations and training at police headquarters told a meeting that ending crime in the lake was an important area of action calling for cooperation and coordination from police operational units and detachments in the area.

He warned that it would otherwise be increasingly hard for fishermen to engage in their activities peacefully with a definite implication for public security.

Details on the plan were given at a meeting Commander Sabas had with regional police commanders, regional CID officers, officers commanding districts (OCDs), fisheries officers and representatives of fishermen, and other stakeholders.

The representation reflected the fact that crime in the lake is a cross-cutting issue

Officers took time exchanging ideas and experiences on how to eradicate criminal activities in the lake widely blamed for disrupting fishing and endangering public security.

To an extent, the violence in the lake is an illustration of pockets of lawlessness tied to relatively primitive modes of economy.

When informal activity guided only by communal habits prevails, chances of relative breakdown of the law are plentiful.

Trying to take stock of how security breaches rise by the day in most African countries, even when they thought they were stable, is disturbing.

This is because law and order becomes some form of an extended fire and rescue force – reacting to emergencies all the time.

An evident reason is the army of unemployed youths in urban areas and rural residents whose lives are ruined by falling prices of crops and at times drought and lack of part-time rural labour opportunities. Without regular income, youths get wild and get busy hunting for shortcuts.

Commissioner Sabas said the prevalence of criminal incidents in Lake Victoria has gone down but they need to be eradicated so that people conduct their businesses without unending fear.

That was somewhat pleasant in that it implies that police already have workable law-enforcement strategies in the area – but it did not preclude the need for the task force meeting.

Police will strive to make sure that they work together with other stakeholders in sampling as much relevant information on crime as practicable so as to identify and close all hideouts or escape routes for culprits.

Police look determined to become especially active, but will this do in taming the tide of crime, if you will?

Host RPC Ramadhan Ng’anzi aptly said security in the lake concerns all stakeholders, as crime doesn’t discriminate and can pounce on anyone.

Representatives of the Tanzania Fishermen’s Union (TAFU) sounded somewhat scared, saying virtually each island has an evil-minded and far from well-intentioned gang ‘in control of the situation’.

Were it that these islands are put on long leases for individuals who can develop income-generating facilities without overfishing in the lake, their security would be enhanced, the gangs thrown out.

Going forward, it is hoped that options like this will also come under consideration so that the relevant authorities decide the modalities of implementing them.

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