Officials meet to address Lake row

Police speed boat in Lake Victoria. [Caleb Kingwara/Standard]
Top government officials from Kenya and Uganda have met to tackle disputes on Lake Victoria.

The officials, who met in Siaya Tuesday, agreed to form joint patrols on the lake to reduce boundary conflicts; that have seen many Kenyan fishermen prosecuted in the neighbouring country.

They also resolved to establish mobile hotline numbers, to be used by fishermen to report harassment by security officials and pirate attacks.

The meeting comes at a time Kenyan fishermen in Migori, Homa Bay, Busia  and Siaya have accused Ugandan police and military officers of arbitrary arrests, torture and prosecution.

They have also accused the Ugandans of confiscating their fish and fishing gears over alleged trespass.

During Tuesday's meeting, the delegations from the two countries agreed that the frequent conflicts were straining relationships between the two neighbouring countries, which share the lake with Tanzania.

In addition to stepping up patrols and establishing a hotline number, the officials recommended that the two countries should sensitise their respective fishing communities on existing fishing and transportation laws and regulations.

They also saidall impounded boats and fishing gear be handed over to the respective enforcement agencies to be returned to their owners.

A communiqué honouring the resolutions was then signed by the fishermen's representatives, security teams from both countries and the fisheries authorities.

The meeting, which was sponsored by the Siaya government, was attended by county commissioners Michael Oleitalal (Siaya), Joseph Narengo (Busia), Joseph Rotich (Migori) and Irungu Macharia (Homa Bay).

Sylvester Opira from Namaingo in Uganda and Hussein Matanda, the Busia Resident District Commissioner, were also present.

Lake victoria disputenyanza countiesKenya-Uganda watersboundary conflicts