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At least 30 Kenyan fishermen arrested by Ugandan officials

Sunday July 28 2019

Nyandiwa beach in Suba South

Fishing boats docked at Nyandiwa beach in Suba South, Homa Nau County. At least 30 Kenyan fishermen are reportedly being detained in Uganda after they were arrested while fishing in Lake Victoria on July 27, 2019. PHOTO | GEORGE ODIWUOR | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

GEORGE ODIWUOR
By GEORGE ODIWUOR
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At least 30 Kenyan fishermen are reportedly being detained in Uganda after they were arrested while fishing in Lake Victoria on Saturday.

The fishermen are said to be detained in Hama Island after they were arrested by officials from the Ugandan Revenue Authority (URA).

It is not clear why they were taken to the island.

But Beach Management Unit (BMU) officials in Homa Bay County believe the fishermen might have illegally crossed the boundary between Kenya and Uganda.

EQUIPMENT SEIZED

County BMU Chairman Edward Oremo said URA officials also confiscated nets and 10 fishing boats.

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“The Ugandans also took their fish. They were all escorted to Uganda where they were locked up,” he said.

The fishermen were from various beaches in Suba North and Suba South sub-counties.

Mr Oremo reported that URA officers conducted a raid in Sare and Kiwa beaches in Suba South and confiscated five boats.

They arrested 15 fishermen from the two areas.

He added that the officers proceeded further to Suba North where they arrested 15 more fishermen and confiscated five other boats.

STATEMENT

Homa Bay County Commissioner Harman Shambi confirmed the arrests.

He said on Sunday that his office was yet to get a comprehensive statement on why the fishermen were arrested.

“My office has tried to make communication with officials in Uganda but we are yet to get a response and information about the arrest,” he said.

The administrator added that Homa Bay BMU officials were Sunday on their way to Uganda to find out why exactly the fishermen were arrested.

“As soon as we get to know why they were arrested, we can then start the process of setting them free,” Mr Shamb said.

FINED

The incident comes just a week after three Kenyan fishermen from Nyandiwa Beach in Suba South were arrested and detained on the same island by Ugandan security agents.

They were later released after paying a collective fine of Sh30,000.

The fishing community in Homa Bay has now called on the government to intervene to end the frequent arrests.

Mr Oremo said fishermen are worried when they are in the lake.

LIVELIHOOD

“The number of arrests made within a short span of time is now worrying. Families which depend on fishing are now worried that their source of livelihood will be gone,” he said.

Suba South MP Johan Mbadi and his Suba North counterpart Millie Odhiambo assured fishermen that their problems will soon be solved.

They announced plans by the government to purchase a patrol boat that will be used by Kenyan police in protecting fishermen from alleged harassment by the Ugandans.

Mr Mbadi said Parliament has approved the purchase of the boat.

“As a members of the budget committee, we had resolved to purchase a boat that will be used in protecting our fishermen,” he said.

Ms Odhiambo said the boat will operate in Lake Victoria after its launch by Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i.