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Fishermen worry as survey of Migingo stalls

By | July 17th 2009

By Kepher Otieno

Ugandan surveyors remained non-committal on when they would return to conclude joint survey of the disputed Migingo Island.

The move has now raised anxiety among Kenyan fishermen who had pegged their hope on the outcome of the survey to help resolve the dispute.

Ugandan’s Director of Land Management Justin Bwogi told The Standard he could not state w hen they would resume.

"We are still consulting, but we will come back very soon, and you people should not worry," he said on the telephone.

But even as he promised their return, fishermen are getting uneasy.

"Seeing the way things are going, we may be forced to demonstrate again as we suspect something fishy is cooking behind our backs," said a fisherman who did not wish to be named.

Barely five minutes after the Ugandan official declined to divulge more information to us, he called back and directed us to speak to his PS for further information.

Several efforts made by The Standard to reach the PS were, however, failed, as his phone went unanswered.

Local surveyors expressed worries the exercise could be delayed by Uganda’s absence, especially because only two weeks remain to finalise the work and compile a joint report.

So far, the exercise has taken 44 of its 60 days mandate and is expected to cost the two governments Sh140 million.

Kenyan surveyors continued with mapping of the islands in Lake Victoria as they wait for their counterparts.

Kenya’s Director of Land Surveys Ephantus Murage said work was going on.

He said: "My team is mapping other Islands, which are all on Kenyan side. They will, however, not map Migingo until Ugandans jet back as it is disputed."

So far, they have mapped Sumba and Mageta Islands and will proceed to Remba and Ringiti Islands on Friday.

They have also mapped the mouth of Sio River to determine the northern most point of Sumba Island, as described in the 1926 Order-in-Council.

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