Kenyan and Ugandan authorities have resolved to end perennial disputes on Lake Victoria boundaries. On Tuesday, a regional meeting that brought together security heads from Siaya and Busia counties, Uganda, and from Beach Management Units (BMUs) of the two countries, made 10 resolutions that take effect immediately.
The Kenyan delegation was led by Busia County Commissioner Jacob Narengo, his Siaya counterpart Michael Tialal and BMUs from the two counties, led by Mr Tom Guda, chairman of Lake Victoria BMU Network (a lobby that promotes fishermen's welfare).
Recently, Mr Narengo and Mr Tialal swapped stations after a visit by Interior CS Fred Matiang’i in Busia.
The Uganda side was represented by Busia Resident District Commissioner Hussein Matanda, Fisheries Protectorate Unit Commandant Joseph Sebukira and several security personnel.
RESOLVE MINOR CONFLICTS
Mr Narengo said the meeting resolved that fishermen from the two countries should use their associations to resolve minor conflicts.
“Commanders from both Kenya and Uganda will have regular meetings to address emerging issues. A hotline to receive complaints and suggestions will be established, manned by highly ranked commanders from both countries,” said Mr Narengo.
They agreed to use Google Maps to guide officers from both countries on the limits of their operations, pending a joint survey by the two countries.
On extortion claims, the meeting said all complaints regarding taxes should be addressed to Uganda Revenue Authority senior officer Enock Manje.
Kenyan fishermen have regularly accused Ugandan security personnel of seeking bribes and conducting arbitrary arrests.
The meeting agreed to use Google Maps to guide officers from both sides. It called for observance of good fishing practices and payment of taxes. Fishermen were warned against carrying arms, including crude weapons.
Mr Matanda promised to ensure all issues on corruption are investigated and action taken against officers found culpable.
The fishermen were told to ensure all boats have visible registration numbers.
“Registration of boats is an on-going activity by the two national governments, in partnership with various counties. It's a legal requirement. Only licensed boats are allowed to operate on the lake,” he said.
The meeting resolved to have all fishing equipment (boats and other gear) that might have been impounded released. All cases that are not yet in court will be dropped.
The resolutions will be communicated to the fishing community.