Kenya, Uganda fishing acrimony escalates
The fishing acrimony between Kenya and Uganda escalated Monday when traders from the Kenyan side claimed that they were stuck with at least 300 tonnes of fish destined for export at the Ugandan Border.
This comes just two months after Uganda’s High Commissioner to Kenya, Amb Dr Hassan Wasswa Galiwago said Kenya and Uganda will soon find a lasting solution to the dispute over fishing row that has existed between them.
“What is important and everyone should know, is that Kenya and Uganda are brothers and they cannot sustain a conflict. Any conflict will be resolved even when it means sacrifices,’ said Galiwango when he spoke to Spice FM.
“One thing that I want to assure you is that there is no question between Kenyan and Uganda that cannot be resolved. It is just a matter of time before the dispute is resolved.
Early last month, officials from Uganda’s Fisheries Protection Unit (FPU) at the Mpondwe border, one of three major crossings between the country and the Democratic Republic of Congo, impounded five Kenyan trucks carrying fish destined for DRC.
Ugnda’s Daily Monitor Newspaper reports that Mr Hassan Ahmad, a fish exporter, last weekend said he delivered a truckload of salted fish from Lake Turkana in Kenya to the Busia-Kenya fish market, but none of his customers is willing to buy.
“Every week, I have been delivering about 12 tonnes of fish to this market, but for the last two weeks, I have not exported any fish to DR Congo because I am not sure of the safety of my goods,” Mr Ahmad said.
According to Mr Hassan Omari, another trader, “it remains unclear if the 300 tonnes of fish will ever be exported.”
According to FPU, the fish impounded last month was immature and from Ugandan lakes, which had been smuggled to Kenya, processed and repackaged for export.
Ms Joyce Ikwaput, the director of Fisheries at the Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries, claimed the fish was from Lake Kyoga in central Uganda.
But Mr Omari fears Ugandan authorities might impound whatever fish they intend to export to DR Congo after the Fisheries State minister, Ms Hellen Adoa, said: “they will not be pressured to have the fish released.”
Last April, the two governments held an inter-trade meeting in Kampala that culminated in President Museveni lifting the non-tariff barrier on furniture and sanitary towels from Kenya.
“There is nothing that can make us fail. Kenya is also reciprocating in the same way. Our sugar is now coming in,” said Galiwango who disclosed that Uganda exports 90,000 tons of Sugar a year to Kenya.
With just nine months left before President Uhuru Kenyatta leaves office, nothing much at Lake Victoria seems to have been achieved yet, with regards to a fishing row between Nairobi and Kampala, exposing Kenyan fishing activities in the lake to greater risks.
Additional information from The Standard Digital