A tough directive is reportedly to have been issued in Mayuge, Namaingo and Sigulu last year when President Yoweri Museveni met the fishing community.

“They left me on the island without food, clothes and a boat. I survived by the grace of God,” Mr Ouro, who is yet to return to the lake, recalled.

Fishermen quizzed said confiscated gear is never taken to Ugandan courts as exhibit. “Most fishermen produce at least Sh50,000 to get back their gear. Some have sold their household items and livestock to raise the amount,” he said.

The UPDF officers routinely cross into Kenya to arrest fishermen. It happens in Sumba island in Budalang’i and Bumbe beach in Samia.

Mr Ben Wandera from Buduong'i in Funyula recounted how he swam for about five kilometres to escape arrest.

“I jumped into the lake when armed Ugandan officers approached. They seized the boat yet we were near Majanji beach,” he said.

APPEAL FOR HELP

Three of his colleagues were arrested and taken to a detention camp in Uganda. “There were about 10 officers in an ordinary boat and had guns and pangas,” he said.

Fishermen in Busia appeal to Kenyan authorities to protect them from harassment. “There are no police officers at Sumba, Mageta, Ringiti, Remba and Migingo islands,” Mr Ouro said.

Busia County Beach Management Units Network chairman Sylvester Kaywa asked President Uhuru Kenyatta to come to the aid of the more than 26,000 fishermen spread across the 20 beaches.

“Many of the fishermen have been rendered jobless. Kenyans have become hostages in their own country. Fishermen say the government has abandoned them,” Mr Kaywa said.

Kenya allows the use of size 4.5 nets, but anything lower than six in Uganda is illegal.

DIPLOMACY

Kenya also permits the use of canoes that are pointed on both sides, but Uganda only allows single-pointed boats.

Last week, Devolution Cabinet Secretary Eugene Wamalwa told Kenyan fishermen that the government is doing everything to end the harassment.

He said President Kenyatta would meet Mr Museveni to discuss the matter.

Last month, Deputy President William Ruto announced plans to set up a marine and fisheries institute in Sisenye.

Page 2 of 2