Lake Victoria fishermen call for increased security

Boats at Litare beach, Mbita Sub-county packed at the shore of Lake Victoria. [James Omoro, Standard]

Fishermen have lost millions of shillings in equipment to criminals operating in Lake Victoria.

Ochieng Pero, chairman of Litare BMU, said the equipment includes seven boats, fishing gear, and other valuables such as mobile phones.

He said since 2021, fishermen working on the beach in Mbita Sub-County have lost fishing equipment worth more than Sh2.17 million to pirates.

On Friday night, a group of four men stole a boat engine worth Sh250,000, a fishing net worth Sh60,000, and two mobile phones worth Sh42,000.

The same night, the same criminals robbed four fishermen from Sindo in Suba Sub-county of an engine boat, a fishing net, and their mobile phones.

Pero said fishermen from his beach had just cast their nets and anchored their boats when they were confronted by four men armed with machetes. The armed men ordered the Litare fishermen to lie down in their boats with their heads down. They eventually told them to turn in their cell phones.

The victims' boat's coxswain, Erick Odhiambo, said the attackers eventually ordered him to remove the engine and surrender.

"They ordered me to remove the engine from my boat while my colleagues were still lying down, or they would kill me. I didn't fight back because they were armed with machetes."

Pero was forced to mobilise another team of fishermen to rescue the victims. "I received word that fishermen from my beach had been attacked and robbed of their gear. I organised a group of fishermen to come to their aid," he said.

Pero urged the government to deploy Kenya Coast Guard officials to patrol the lake at night.