Ugandan fishermen reject stolen boats returned by Kenyans

Tuesday November 28 2023

Soldiers inspect boats at Kayei Landing Site on the shores of Lake Victoria on December 18, 2022. PHOTO | DAILY MONITOR


Fishermen on the Ugandan side of Busia District have accused Kenyans of vandalising their boats which they returned months after they were stolen.

In September, the fishermen woke up to 14 of their transport boats, fishing nets and boat engines missing and immediately suspected their Kenyan counterparts of being behind the crime.

Moses Bwire, a fisherman, said the Kenyan Coast Guard returned 13 of the 14 boats; of which three were vandalised.

Read: Now Kenya launches coast guard

“Some of the boats had their number plates removed, while others had their sideboards missing and replaced with old timber,” Bwire told Daily Monitor on Monday.

According to Bwire, a functional boat is supposed to maintain its buoyancy, but three of the returned boats have sunk and are of no use unless they are repaired.



The alleged theft of boats appeared to have been in retaliation after they reportedly impounded illegal fishing gear and arrested some Kenyan nationals during an operation.

Read: Ugandan soldiers brutalise us: Kenyan fishermen

Kenya controls the least part of Lake Victoria (5 percent), while the rest (95 percent) is shared by Uganda and Tanzania.

But despite controlling the least of Lake Victoria, Kenya has employed a liberal policy which has allowed illegal fishing to thrive, nearly leading to total depletion of their fish stock.

This is unlike Uganda which has employed stringent measures to curb illegal fishing, including the deployment of the Fisheries Protection Unit (FPU).

In 2009, Uganda and Kenya were locked in a bitter dispute over the control of Migingo, a rock-barren island nearly the size of a football pitch.

Migingo, which is neither the largest nor most resourceful of the many Islands on Lake Victoria, is surrounded by part of the lake which is rich in fish resources.

Also, a lack of a marked boundary on the lake between Uganda and Kenya has continued to fuel the disputes.