New island row with Uganda erupts - Daily Nation

New island row with Uganda erupts

Monday May 9 2011

Migingo Island (right) on Lake Victoria that Uganda and Kenya claim ownership. Photo/FILE

Migingo Island (right) on Lake Victoria that Uganda and Kenya claim ownership. Photo/FILE 

By ELISHA OTIENO [email protected]

Uganda is setting up a marine police camp on Ugingo Island that is at the centre of a fresh dispute between Kenya and its neighbour.

Nyatike district commissioner Allan Macharia said they wanted to establish the motive of the neighbours “in wanting to set up a base at Ugingo Island”.

“I got an intelligence brief showing that they want to set up a marine police camp on the island, located barely 50 metres from the populous Migingo Island,” he said.

The Ugandans are continuing with construction of mabati (iron sheet) kiosks on Ugingo Island in Lake Victoria, which they seized recently, despite ongoing protests from the Kenyan traders and fishermen.

The officers barred Kenyans who had attempted to build their business premises on the island. “They told us to keep off the island until they finish building the kiosks so that we rent from them.

“It seems that they have succeeded in taking yet another island from us,” a Kenyan fisherman, Mr Paul Okello, said.

One of the Ugandan marine police officers told the Nation over the phone that they would also build another makeshift patrol base on Ugingo.

“Kenyans should stop complaining over our activities because we are providing them with security in the lake.

“Pirates who used to hold them ransom disappeared in 2004 when we first set foot here,” said the officer who asked not to be named since he is not allowed to discuss security matters with the media.

“As to whether Ugingo belongs to Kenya or Uganda is another issue to be sorted out by the leadership of the two East African nations,” he added.

Kenyan authorities are already reaching out to the Ugandan Government to discuss the latest row on their seizure of another island in Lake Victoria.

The DC called for calm among Kenyan traders and fishermen operating on the lake as he began talks with his Bugiri counterpart, Ms Mwnamoiza Chikomeko, on the latest “invasion”.

“I am optimistic we are going to find a permanent solution since Ugingo is indisputably within the Kenyan territorial waters,” Mr Macharia said.

At the same time, Gwassi MP John Mbadi in whose constituency the island is located reacted angrily to the government’s silence over the matter.

He told Kenya’s security forces to act and save the island from the fate that befell Migingo.

The MP questioned the government’s commitment to secure Kenya’s territorial borders in the wake of the latest row.

Accompanied by his parliamentary colleague, Rarieda’s Nicholas Gumbo, Mr Mbadi said President Kibaki and his leadership should find a way of dealing with what they described as President Yoweri Museveni’s “expansionist policy”.