Fishermen at the Kisove landing site on Lujjabwa Island in Mazinga sub-county, Kalangala district, are facing a challenging situation as more than 60 boats find themselves trapped due to a blockage caused by water hyacinth. The dense mats of water hyacinth have effectively clogged the landing site, preventing the boats from entering or exiting.
The water hyacinth is suspected to have traveled from Bukoba in Tanzania across Lake Victoria, causing the obstruction. Since Sunday evening, November 26, fishermen have been avoiding the plants due to concerns about potential snake infestations. Two snakes, believed to be pythons, were killed after emerging from the hyacinth, heightening worries among the fishermen.
Umar Tamale, a fisherman, shared that, in addition to pythons, dangerous snakes, including cobras, have been discovered in the hyacinth and have sought refuge in the blocked fishing boats. The situation has become alarming, with reports of snakes attacking individuals attempting to approach their boats.
Fishermen are also apprehensive about the presence of other hazardous aquatic creatures, such as blood-sucking flukes, within the water hyacinth. The affected fishermen have appealed to the district disaster and management committee for assistance. However, committee head David Omongot stated that no resources have been allocated to address such disasters.
Recalling the year 2000, when water hyacinth was widespread on Lake Victoria, David Balironda, a senior farming officer, mentioned efforts to remove and dry the plants to prevent regrowth. The government provided support, including overalls, forked spades, wheelbarrows, grooves, and boots, to aid fishermen in combating the issue.
Water hyacinth is notorious for its rapid growth, producing thousands of seeds annually that can remain viable for up to 30 years. The plant, considered one of the fastest-growing, can double its population in just two weeks.
Resty Nakawungu, the Mazinga Sub-County councillor, has appealed to the Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry, and Fisheries to intervene and assist the stranded fishermen, whose livelihoods depend on fishing. Water hyacinth, besides causing blockages, poses ecological risks by depleting water bodies of oxygen, increasing water loss, and providing breeding grounds for mosquitoes. The uncontrolled growth of water hyacinth can lead to the destruction of native habitats, threatening local wildlife.