President Ruto's assurance to fisherfolk in Lake Victoria 

William Ruto

President William Ruto shakes hands with Kisumu Governor Anyang’ Nyong'o (centre) after he unveiled the memorial plaque during the groundbreaking ceremony of the Sh1 billion Kabonyo Fisheries and Aquaculture Centre in Kano, Kisumu on October 6, 2023.

Photo credit: Ondari Ogega | Nation Media Group

What you need to know:

  • Kenyan fishermen have from time to time found themselves being locked in cells in the neighbouring countries.
  • President Ruto said he will meet Uganda President Yoweri Museveni over the issue to see how to address it.

The government has pledged to end the perennial security threats faced by Kenyan fishermen in Lake Victoria.

President William Ruto said he would ensure that the problems faced by fishermen are addressed.

This is after fishing communities along the lake complained of alleged harassment by security officers from Uganda.

Kenyan fishermen have from time to time found themselves being locked in cells in the neighbouring countries.

Some have been accused of illegally crossing the border while others have been accused of using the wrong fishing gear.

Though the government has its security personnel, Kenya Coast Guard, who operate in the lake and should protect fishermen, some officers are accused of laxity.

Homa Bay governor Gladys Wanga appealed to President Ruto to address the issue once and for all.

“Our fishermen are facing persistent threats from the neighbouring country. But instead of our officers helping them, they go ahead and arrest fishermen in need of protection,” Ms Wanga claimed.

She spoke when she accompanied the head of state to Mfangano Island on Saturday.

President Ruto said he would meet Uganda President Yoweri Museveni and discuss how to address the issue.

“I will travel to Uganda next week to meet the Head of State there. Security issues in the lake are among the issues I will discuss with him,” the president said.

The Head of State said they will also discuss how to promote safety and security in the lake.

This is among the programmes that the government plans to promote fishing in Lake Victoria. Others include the construction of roads and fish landing sites for Sh 900 million. Landing sites will be constructed in Sori, Nyandiwa, Nyatike and Wich Lum.

The government also plans to restock the lake using fingerlings from the Kabonyo Fisheries and Aquaculture Centre in Kisumu.

At the same time, President Ruto has launched the construction of two major roads that will be used by fishing communities in Homa Bay. The roads are Mbita-Sindo-Magunga-Sori and Mfangano ring road in Mfangano Island.

Nyanza region depends on fishing as one of the major drivers of its economy. However, fishermen face a lot of challenges, ranging from poor infrastructure that delays the distribution of fish to the market.

This leads to losses as the delicacy is perishable and loses quality when delivery is delayed.

President Ruto said his government has laid down plans to ensure Lake Victoria is put to good use to benefit the region and the country.

“We want to take advantage of the lake and use it to build the economy of Nyanza and the country. That includes construction of good roads,” the President said.

Mbita-Sindo-Magunga-Sori connects Suba and Nyatike. The 74 km road, which is being constructed by KeRRA, traverses parts of Nyatike constituency in Migori County and Suba South and Suba North constituencies in Homa Bay County.

Once complete, the road, which connects Homa Bay and Migori will improve trade and investment in the region due to enhanced accessibility and interconnectivity.

It will also ease the transportation of fish and farm produce to markets thereby uplifting the livelihoods of farmers in the region, in line with the government’s bottom-up economic transformation agenda.

In addition, the road will improve access to important institutions including government offices, health centres and learning institutions.

President Ruto also launched the construction of a new 53km Mfangano Island ring road. Currently, the road, which falls under KURA, is 2.5 metres to 8 metres wide and can only be accessed by foot, or using bicycles and motorbikes, thus hampering the transportation of people and goods and posing safety risks for road users.

The project will entail expanding the length of the road to between 10 and 15 metres to enable access by vehicles and enhance the safety of road users, and the construction of box culverts to improve drainage.

President Ruto was accompanied by Transport Cabinet Secretary Kipchumba Murkomen who announced several infrastructural development projects in the region.

“We are currently expanding Kabunde Airstrip. Our plans will promote tourism in the lake,” Mr Murkomen said.