Over 3000 fishermen from Kiunga, Lamu County on Sunday welcomed President Uhuru Kenyatta’s order to allow night fishing to resume, almost five years after it was banned due to terror attacks.
For over four years, Kiunga fishermen had been subjected to a night curfew which was ordered by the government in 2011, following a spate of terror attacks and kidnapping of tourists and local fishermen in the area by suspected Al-Shabaab militants.
Addressing residents at Faza Island in Lamu East Sub County on Friday, President Uhuru Kenyatta said it was inappropriate for the government to hold onto the curfew, saying it had already contributed to poverty among locals who depend on fishing as their major economic activity.
President Kenyatta said there was need for the fishermen to be allowed to fish at night.
“As you know, fishermen in Kiunga are not allowed to go fishing at night for security reasons.
“Fishing is the main source of livelihood for Kiunga resident. As I stand here today, let the fishermen be allowed to fish at night.
“Interior Cabinet Secretary Joseph Nkaissery should cooperate with all leaders and seek a way forward on how security of those fishermen will be guaranteed,” said Mr Kenyatta.
KILLING THE ECONOMY
The Head of State added: “Imposing a curfew for fishermen in places like Kiunga is like killing their economy. Killing economy means you welcome poverty.
“We are working hard in eradicating poverty in our society. Let us ensure we save the economy and at the same time we secure our nation.”
Fishermen who talked to Nation.co.ke expressed their gratitude towards the President’s order to have the curfew lifted.
Mr Muhashiam Famau said the curfew had denied most fishermen their right to economic well-being.
Mr Famau lauded President Kenyatta for the decision saying fishermen will now carry on with their activities and fully enjoy their freedom at sea.
“Since the President has ordered CS Nkaissery to oversee how our security will be guaranteed at sea, then I don’t see the reason as to why the curfew is not lifted. We are happy that at least we will conduct our activities any time we want,” said Mr Famau.
Mr Omar Amin, a fisherman at Kiunga, said he saw no problem with the President’s decision to lift the curfew for the fishermen since calm had long returned to Kiunga.
“Security is now fine. We need to expand our fishing and lead normal lives like other people,” said Mr Amin.
He said the move would give the fishermen in the area a break from constant harassment by police whom he said had turned the curfew into a platform to fleece and frustrate them at sea.