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Fishermen lose Sh800, 000 in lake raid


Kenyan fishermen were on Friday attacked and fish worth over Sh800,000 taken away by armed men believed to be Ugandan solders.

The fishermen lost 3.2 tonnes of fish that they were taking to Remba Beach.

The more than 70 fishermen aboard 24 boats said they were attacked by uniformed soldiers with Uganda People’s Defence Force (UPDF) badges.

The fishermen who left Remba on Tuesday on a fishing expedition returned to the shores on Friday empty-handed.

The fishermen had weighing machines that they use to ascertain the weight of the catch before they land.

Ibrahim Ombinya, one of the affected men, said the officers were in three boats.

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“Their uniforms had UPDF markings on them. Some of them were in civilian clothing but were armed,” he said.

Mr Ombinya said the fishermen were first instructed to transfer the ice they use to preserve the fish to the attackers’ boats, after which all their catch was taken away.

“They took about 96kg of fish I had caught, which has an ex-vessel value of about Sh27,000 since I intended to sell each fish at Sh280. I used over 50 litres of fuel, which is also a huge loss for me,” Ombinya said.

Another fisherman, Earnest Odhiambo, said the officers beat him up when he tried to stop them from taking his catch.

“When we landed on the beach, I was treated at Remba Health Centre,” Mr Odhiambo said.

Harassment

East Africa’s Lake Victoria Beach Management Unit (BMU) Chairman Tom Guda said the Government should address the issue of Ugandan soldiers intimidating, harassing, and stealing from Kenyan fishermen.

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“The fishermen were defenceless. Their boats were loaded, hence they could not move fast. They could have escaped if they had twin horse power. The Ugandan soldiers had a fun-filled day as they took away all the fish,” Mr Guda said.

He said Uganda has assigned armed officers to patrol its waters, but they sometimes stray to the Kenyan side.

“The Government should not leave this situation unresolved. We might lose lives. Some fishermen might refuse to comply and get shot.”

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