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Migingo fishermen call on government to save them from Ugandan forces

23 May 2014, 14:45 Oduor Omondi

Kisumu - Kenyan fishermen on Migingo Island have petitioned the Government to stop Ugandan forces from harassing them.

They claim Ugandans are extorting money and impounding their catches and gears worth thousands of shillings monthly on tramped up accusation of trespassing into foreign waters of Lake Victoria.

Migingo Beach Management Unit (BMU) officials said Ugandan police forces were forcing fishermen to part with up to KES 4 000 levies per month on each boat.

“We do not know whether the Kenya Government is aware of this tax which we pay to the Ugandans. If it is part of the bi-lateral agreements signed between the two states then we are supposed to be told officially so we do not think we are being robbed,” said Charles Odhiambo, a BMU official.

The harassment claims come soon after the Uganda deputy police commander, Charles Kalungi visited the disputed island for two days earlier this week and called for calm between the communities living there.

The BMU officials said Kalungi had a productive meeting with both Kenyan and Ugandan officials and fishermen in the island and said that no Kenyan should be harassed for sake of peace.

"Some 15 horsepower engine Yamaha and Suzuki models worth over KES 380 000 have been confiscated by the Uganda forces after claiming they belonged to a Ugandan called Kamya," claimed Odhiambo.

"The Ugandan forces have always arbitrarily arrested Kenyan fishermen and snatched our gears and fish catch through a rag-tag police platoon known as Otoro but no help is coming from our security forces,” he added.

He said most Ugandan police officers have been side stepping the joint BMU which was formed to solve any issues involving fishing disputes.

Nyatike police boss, Tom Onyango said he was aware of the harassment which has been reported to his office by BMU officials and investigations have been launched to curb the menace.

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