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Kenyan fishermen now have to sign ‘visitors’ book’ to enter Migingo

BUSINESS
By | February 26th 2009

By Nick Oluoch

Only a day after Prime Minister Raila Odinga told Parliament the disputed Migingo island belonged to Kenya, Ugandan authorities have introduced new tougher rules.

Kenyans visiting the island are now treated as foreigners and have to sign a visitors’ book and explain their mission, fishermen told The Standard.

Ugandans have hoisted two flags on the island, one for the police force and the other their national flag.

Fishermen said there were still about 60 Ugandan police officers on the island.

"Non-Ugandans visiting the island must now indicate in the visitors’ book the duration of their stay on the island," said Walter Anyona, a fisherman.

He added: "The Ugandans are tightening their grip on the island," said Mr Anyona.

He said a few Kenyan fishermen who returned to the island and agreed to pay the Sh60,000-a-year tax to Uganda were under close police surveillance.

Meanwhile, the Luo Council of Elders has called on President Kibaki and his Ugandan counterpart Yoweri Museveni to directly intervene and resolve the issue.

Chairman Riaga Ogalo said the situation was getting out of hand and needed a speedy resolution to save the Kenyan fishermen, whose source of livelihood was threatened.

Ogalo said the council was deeply concerned over hostility shown to the fishermen by the Ugandan authority over the island that was rightfully in Kenya.

The council’s deputy chairman Adero Osawa appealed to Museveni to uphold the good relationship between the two countries by withdrawing his army from the island.

Migori DC Julius Mutula, however, disputed claims that Kenyan fishermen still living on the island were being harassed.

There are fears that fish shortage could be experienced in Migori, Rongo and Homa Bay districts unless the issue of the ownership of the island is resolved.

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