Unfair Nile treaty favours Egypt, say Migori fishermen

Fishermen going about their activities in lake Victoria. Photo/ file
Fishermen going about their activities in lake Victoria. Photo/ file

Fishermen in Migori county have petitioned Kenya and Uganda to agree on how to settle the protracted dispute between them over fishing boundaries.

Among other things, the fishermen want the two nations to focus seriously on augmenting broader efforts on the efficient and sustainable use of Lake Victoria resources and the Nile waters by riparian states, including Ethiopia, Rwanda, Burundi, Tanzania, Sudan and Egypt.

While Kenya and Uganda have had a sour relationship regarding fishing activities on the lake, the riparian nations are united by a 1959 agreement spelling out the use of the Nile waters.

Speaking in Migori on Sunday, the fishermen said it was wrong for the treaty to continue favoring Egypt as the sole beneficiary of the Nile, adding that it is high time the agreement was repealed to offer fairness in the region.

Led by chairman of Olasi beach Joseph Owiti, they asked the Kenyan and Ugandan governments to up joint security efforts to eliminate piracy on the lake.

“There are criminals taking advantage of the sour relations between Kenya and Uganda over the boundaries to rob innocent fishermen of their catches and gears worth billions of shillings annually,” Owiti said.

High level inter-governmental talks on fishing rights have been going on between Kenya and Uganda, leading to the two states to prevail upon their citizens to cease hostilities.

The two nations have been holding joint conferences where resolutions have been made that will soon be implemented in its totality to bring harmony and peace among all stakeholders within the common boundaries.

Whereas Kenyan fishermen have been blaming their Ugandan counterparts led by the states' forces of harassment and confiscation of fishing equipment, the Ugandans have dismissed the claims, instead blaming their accusers of invading their fishing waters.

The fishermen called for the harmonization of laws and concerted efforts made between the Great Lake states to curb piracy, insecurity and depletion of the lake’s resources.

They urged that regular consultative meetings be held among government officials of bordering countries.

“It is regrettable that little progress has been attained in resolving key issues affecting the lake population because they are not fully involved,” Owiti said.

He said the two nations have "had much talk with little impact", adding that their officers must consider involving the citizens to effect a change.

Migori county commissioner Joseph Rotich has said the positive bilateral talks that have been ongoing for long between the two nations would soon bare fruits.

“We are also making efforts to bring on board our neighbouring country, Tanzania, so that the region’s problems regarding the lake can be handled jointly for the benefit of the population in the East African nations,” Rotich said during a meeting to prepare for a joint delegates’ conference early next year in Migori.