By Reuben Olita
Busia Governor, H.E Sospeter Ojaamong has sent a passionate plea to the Ugandan Government to end the harassment of Kenyan fish exporters.
Addressing a joint technical committee that draws its membership from Kenya and Uganda that paid him a courtesy call in his office, the Governor urged the committee to look for a lasting solution to this impasse.
Ugandan security officers impounded at least 300 tonnes of fish worth Ksh.40million that was destined to the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Ugandan Fisheries Protection Unit officials confiscated five Kenyan trucks transporting fish to the Democratic Republic of Congo over claims it’s immature and sourced from its lakes.
This led to protests from Kenyan fish exporters to DRC
who appealed to President Uhuru Kenyatta to intervene and prevail upon his Ugandan counterpart, Yoweri Museveni to have the confidcated fish returned to them.
H.E said the Non tarriff barriers occasioned by constant harrassment of fish traders should be brought to ensure seamless trade between Kenya and the Great Lakes Region.
” Fish traders from both Kenya and Uganda should be accorded a condusive environment instead of discriminating them. We are all East Africans to deserve such treatment,” he said.
The county chief said fish traders who suffered the loss need to be compensated, disclosing that the Busia trans-shipment market, the largest in East and Central Africa, will be commissioned next week.
The Kenyan delegation by Principal Secretary for Fisheries, Dr Francis Owino and his East African Community counterpart, Dr. Kevit Desai. Uganda delegation was led by Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries, David Kasura Kyomukana.
Dr Owino said the decision to form the joint committee was arrived at following a meeting of Fisheries Ministers from Kenya and Uganda last December with the main aim of finding the best way of evacuating fish to the DRC without barriers.
To demystify claims that the fish didn’t originate from Turkana, the delegation made a tour of Lake Turkana to witness how fish is packed in lorries before being transported to Busia enroute to the DRC.
Dr Desai said the formation of the joint committee will privide a lasting solution to challenges facing Kenyan fish exporters, noting that it will also seek solutions on value addition for fish.
Kasura said Lake Victoria is home to a population of 300 million people, thus the need to put proper structures in place to safeguard those who engage in fish trade.