Fishermen in Sumba island, Lake Victoria, are crying foul after Ugandan police, on Wednesday, allegedly raided and confiscated their boat engines and fishing nets.
Ugandan security officers are said to have been angered by local fishermen’s move to continue fishing in foreign waters with illegal fishing gears.
Shadrack Kimani, Bunyala Sub County Director of Fisheries, confirmed the incident stating that the provincial administration would intervene to have the five boat engines and the number plates confiscated returned to the local fishermen.
Kimani also announced that whenever the Ugandan officers confiscate the engines and nets, they ask for between Ksh40,000 and Ksh50,000 before they release them.
“When you confiscate the boat engines that means the fishermen cannot carry out their daily fishing expedition, we are going to engage the provincial administration to assist in recovering the engines and nets,” affirmed Kimani.
The Ugandan police were forced to shoot in the air to scare away irate fishermen. They had unsuccessfully tried to arrest them on the ground of using illegal fishing gear.
According to the chairman of the Mabinju Beach Management Unit (BMU) Francis Nyongesa, the Ugandan police told them to give them Ksh50,000 and get back the engines.
He reiterated that there was a need for the flag to be raised and police station put in Sumba Island.
“Lack of station and Kenyan flag is disadvantaging to us because the Ugandan police officers can walk in of the island carry out the operation and leave,” the Mabinju BMU chair added.
According to a report by The Standard, there are at least 350 Kenyans residing in Sumba Island who depend entirely on fishing.
In 2018, residents of the island urged the Kenyan government to put up a police post and have the flag raised daily to remind all that the island was in Kenya.
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