Sumbawanga — MORE than 200 tonnes of fresh fish popularly known as 'mikebuka' caught by fisherman in Lake Tanganyika in Kalambo District, in Rukwa Region are sold each day at throw away prices in Mpulungu District in the neighboring Zambia.
Those fishermen claim they have no option but to search for markets in neighbouring Zambia. "Since modern market for preserving and processing fish built over two years ago along the shores of Lake Tanganyika at Kasanga village in Kalambo District at the cost of more than 1.5 bn/- failed to take off it is costing the fishermen dearly in terms of revenue.
Failure for the market launched by the Vice-President, Dr Mohamed Gharib Bilal, to take off is blamed on the cold room that is said to be below standard. Experts here said that walls in the cold room walls are cracked and the power supply is not reliable.
The market was a initiative of a farmers network namely Mviwata while Sumbawanga District Council supported its construction financially. Acting Rukwa Regional Commissioner, Mr Moshi Chang'a admitted that failure for the market to start operating has forced fishermen across the border in search of markets.
He also said that he was aware that in the Zambia more than 200 tonnes of fish caught are transported by canoe and sold in Mpulungu District in Zambia. Mr Chang'a who doubles as the Kalambo District Commissioner was responding to reporters who wanted to know when the cold room will start operating.
Mr Chang'a revealed that funds are now available to rehabilitate the cold room adding that Tanesco in principal has accepted to provide and install a generator in an effort to rescue the situation.
Mr Edgar Simtoe and Ramadhani Mpepo, fishermen from the area admitted that more than 300 canoes from villages along the shore of Lake Tanganyika in Kalambo District and beyond ply daily to Mpulungu District in Zambia with tonnes of fresh fish.
According to Mr Simtoe in Mpulungu District, fish weighing 25 kilo sells at 3,500/- which to him is a throw away price. Similar sentiments were echoed by fellow fishermen.