Farmers on the poisoned Musanze fish ponds have cited delays in cleaning up the site as likely to cause more losses following a four-month ban on fishing.
Last year in September, the government banned fishing along River Mukungwa.
Rwanda Today learnt that efforts to resume fishing were futile even after farmers received compensation for the losses incurred and efforts made to rehabilitate and restock the ponds. Technicians recommended that the ponds be drained and the water disposed of on the land.
“We need to make sure that we don’t solve a problem while causing another one,” said Jean Ngendahayo, officer in charge of agriculture and natural resources.
Stalled clean up
However, until last week, the Rwanda Agriculture Board, Rwanda Environment Management Authority and Musanze District officials could not start draining the water from the ponds after landowners opposed the move.
The landowners insist the poisoned water would potentially lead to effects on their soil or damage the crops despite assurances by district officials.
“The challenge has been that the residents are opposed to the dumping on their soil. Some are of the view that they should be compensated for their crops. They received the assurance from the district agronomist that the water won’t be harmful, but there is still a need for sensitisation,” said a Musanze district official.
Farmers were compensated with Rwf8.3 million for the lost fish harvest, and Rwf5.6 million for rehabilitating and restocking the ponds.