There was a sigh- of-relief to fish traders in Busia as two sister countries-Kenyan and Ugandan committed to ease the transportation of fish from Lake Turkana to Democratic Republic of Congo by forming a multi-agency team to design the modernity of fish transportation.
A high-powered delegation comprising of Kenya Fisheries Principal Secretary (PS), Francis Owino, Ugandan Agriculture PS, Maj Gen David Kasura-Kyomukama and East African Community PS Kevit Dasai, visited Turkana County for a fact checking mission with a view to identifying to witness the challenges facing the fishmongers and recommend ways of resolving them.
The team held a meeting at the County Commissioner’s office before embarking on a trip to the shores of lake Turkana, to witness the type and size of fish recommended for harvesting and holding grounds.ADVERTISEMENT
According to PS fisheries, Dr. Francis Owino the two teams agreed to form a multi-agency team that will iron out the differences that have been affecting the fish market. This comes after a joint mission from Busia to Turkana to establish and witness how fish is processed and packed in lorries before being transported to Busia enroute to the DRC.
Late last year Ugandan security officers impounded at least 300 tonnes of fish worth Sh.40 million that was destined to the Democratic Republic of Congo.
This led to protests from Kenyan fish exporters to DRC who appealed to President Uhuru Kenyatta to intervene and prevail upon his Ugandan counterpart, Yoweri Museveni to ensure compensation for the affected traders.
Dr Owino said the decision to form the joint committee, was arrived at following a meeting of Fisheries Ministers from Kenya and Uganda last December, with the main aim of finding the best way of evacuating fish to the DRC without barriers.
“Under Busia County Commissioner, Dr. Ahmed Omar, we will establish a multi-agency team to design and agree on modernities that will hasten transportation of fish from Kenya to DRC. We have seen for ourselves and engaged a number of key stakeholders and from the Kenyan side we are satisfied that the mission is going to unlock the challenges that we were facing,’Kenya PS Fisheries Dr Francis Owino.
Busia transhipment and auction centre, is a fish market and transhipment infrastructure that, due to its proximity to OSBP, facilitates EAC regional Integration through cross-border trade
Established in 1986, Busia Transhipment an Auction Centre has membership of 1000 small- holder cross- border traders with more than 6,000 others directly dependent on the market for their livelihood.
EAC PS Dr Desai applauded the efforts by two states to come to consensus through a multi-agency team to try and provide a lasting solution to challenges facing Kenyan fish exporters, noting that it will also seek solutions on value addition for fish.
“This is a very important development in the fish market, our main aim is to attain value addition through high level outcome, improved small scale processing and packaging to stand high in the expo-market,”East African Community PS Kevit Dasai.
Maj Gen David Kasura-Kyomukama, said his team had come to join the Kenyan team in finding the solution on how to structure the fish trade from Turkana through Uganda to DRC.
“I will ensure that fish from Kenya passes to Congo unhindered as long as it has the seal and has been cleared by the KRA and URA. We do not have any problem, every good system requires to be checked once in a while. We want to improve the current system,”David Kasura-Kyomukama.
He warned that the region stands to lose if there is no fish trade between Kenya and Congo. Maj.Kasura rooted for sustainable exploitation of the fish from the lakes to avoid depleting the resource. Kasura said Lake Victoria is home to a population of 300 million people, thus the need to put proper structures in place to safeguard those who engage in fish trade.
Addressing a joint technical committee that draws its membership from Kenya and Uganda that paid him a courtesy call in his office, Busia Governor Sospeter Ojaamong urged the committee to look for a lasting solution to this impasse. The governor sent a passionate plea to the Ugandan Government to end the harassment of Kenyan fish exporters.
Busia has invested heavily in the fish industry. This is evident after the completion of 68 million Fish Transhipment market, ongoing 700 million Jumia market and Cross border women market.