Uganda cash delay stalls demarcation of Migingo Island

Migingo Island (right) as it stands on Lake Victoria. PHOTO | FILE

The demarcation of the disputed Migingo Island in Lake Victoria has stalled after Uganda failed to release cash for joint border marking following a diplomatic row between Nairobi and Kampala.

Foreign secretary Amina Mohammed told the Senate last week that Uganda had not raised its budgetary allocation despite arriving at a deal in February last year.

Tensions over Migingo Island – a rocky protrusion covered in tin shacks used mainly by fishermen – have threatened relations between the key trading partners, who both lay claim to the one-acre island.

The water round Migingo is rich in fish, whereas other parts of Lake Victoria have been decimated by over-exploitation.

“We agreed on demarcation of the border in February, 2014. The only reasons that this has not been carried out is because of lack of resources on the part of the Uganda government,” Ms Mohammed said.

“We had money in our budget, but Uganda didn’t. We agreed that they factor in money for the exercise in their 2015/16 budget and we are waiting for confirmation to that effect,” she told the Senate.

Kenyan and Ugandan police have occupied the island at various times in recent years. Uganda police have on a number of times confiscated fish from Kenyan fishermen, stoking tension.

Ms Mohammed said the two countries cannot establish Customs offices to regulate trade on the disputed island before the demarcation.

She said Kenyan fishermen’s produce was being detained for overfishing, adding that a Customs office would help sort out the matter because locals will simply pay Ugandan authorities for the excess fish to avoid losing their catch.

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