Kenya: Outrage After Tanzania Arrests 6 Kenyan Fishermen, Impounds Boats

Fishermen in Lake Victoria have called on the government to arbitrate and bring to and end the cross-border harassment by Tanzanian authorities.

A day after President Samia Suluhu visited the country, the dispute in Lake Victoria pitting the Kenyan fishermen and the Tanzanian authorities still persists, with outrage from the locals after two Kenyan boats were Wednesday evening impounded and six fishermen arrested while on a fishing expedition.

The fishermen from Kibro Beach in Muhuru Bay, Migori County were rounded up by Tanzanian police officers who took them to Sota beach in in Northern Mara District.

Sh50,000 demand

Kibro Beach Management Unit Chairman Maulid Joel told the Nation that the authorities demanded Sh50,000 for each boat in order release them.

"We sent our representatives to seek the release of the two boats and the fishermen and they were told they have to pay. The boats had the day's catch and other fishing gears," Mr Joel said.

He expressed shock that the arrests came at a time when the Tanzanian president was in the country for bilateral talks to mend frosty relations and enhance working ties between the two countries, which had deteriorated during the reign of former president John Pombe Magufuli.

"The heightened cases of arrest by Tanzanian security officers are yet to be resolved. We would like the government to assure us of our safety while conducting our businesses," Mr Joel said.

Muhuru Bay MCA Hevron Maira said the arrests were an insult to the bilateral talks and peace efforts between the two countries.

"We are also tax paying Kenyans and the talks by the two presidents should be felt by the common wananchi, especially we who live along the Kenya-Tanzania border," Mr Maira said.

Fishing boats capture

In December 2019, Tanzanian authorities impounded 10 fishing boats belonging to Kenyan fishermen, sparking a chase from Kenyan officers patrolling Lake Victoria.

The fishermen, who were on ten boats from beaches along Muhuru Bay in Lake Victoria in Migori County were checking nets, hooks and consolidating their catch on Kenya waters when the Tanzanian officers stormed and arrested them.

Ten engines were impounded, leaving behind the boats, which the fishermen towed to the mainland.

Just a day before the attack, Ugandan police detained four Kenyans in the same area in a similar standoff as Kenyan fishermen and police tried to prevent the arrests.

On the dawn of December 5, Tanzanian officials arrested 20 Kenyan fishermen off Kibro Beach in Migori County and demanded Sh200,000 to secure their release.

The group was impounded at dawn after a night of fishing fresh water sardines popularly known as omena.

Isebania border

Meanwhile, at the Isebania border, cross-border movement into Tanzania remains restricted as the Kenyan business community cries foul.

Movement of trucks into Tanzania remains a serious challenge to Kenyan drivers and the business community has raised concerns over stringent measures put in place by the authorities on imports of essential commodities into the country.

A spot check by the Nation at the Isebania border revealed that Kenyan truck drivers were not being allowed to freely move into Tanzania and could only access parking yards across the border where they pick goods and then return to Kenya.

Some of the drivers and businesspeople interviewed by the Nation confirmed that ferrying bulky goods across the border was proving to be an uphill task.

"We are restricted from accessing the goods from producers. The much we can do is to coordinate with Tanzanians who bring the goods to the parking yard before we can pick them," said Mr Michael Kamau, a truck driver.

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