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End Ugandans' reign of terror in Lake Victoria

By Editorial | July 30th 2021
Aerial view of Migingo Island located in Lake Victoria [Denish Ochieng, Standard]

On various occasions, the latest being July 21, 2021, President Uhuru Kenyatta has vowed that Kenya will not cede even an inch of its territory to anyone.

The president, who was addressing security personnel training in Boni Forest, Lamu County, was most likely referring to the Kenya-Somalia maritime dispute.

Sadly, the determination to protect our territory seems to be taken with the seriousness its deserves only in the case of Somalia.

Kenya and Uganda have been wrangling for years over their common boundary in Lake Victoria, including the location of islands such as Migingo and Mageta. And although these islands have for decades been inhabited by Kenyans, Uganda seems to have the upper hand on them.

It is common for Ugandan security officers to raid the islands and the waters around them and arrest Kenyan fishermen on flimsy grounds, only to set them free after they part with hefty bribes. Some of the Kenyans are held for days in dingy cells on the Ugandan side. In Mageta, Ugandan authorities reportedly force Kenyans to pay Sh8,000 per month for every fishing boat.

Yet, such gross mistreatment and exploitation of Kenyans doesn't seem to bother our government.

Granted, Kenya and Uganda are friendly nations. We cherish the friendship. But friendship is only genuine where there is mutual respect. That clearly is not the case here.

It's a shame for the government to do nothing while its citizens are abused and extorted. Kenya must draw the line. While we do not advocate for Kenya to take up arms against our neighbours, the government must demand that Ugandan officers keep off Kenyan fishermen. It should also call for the resumption of the stalled Lake Victoria demarcation exercise. Ugandans must not be allowed to turn Kenyans into punching bags.

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