Fishing in Mombasa is set to receive a major boost as the county government plans to spend Sh250 million to improve the sector.
The funds will be used to purchase fishing boats, construct a cold store facility and modern market as well as securing landing sites.
According to the county’s 2020/21 budget proposal, the county government will spend Sh120 million to acquire the boats, Sh80 million to build a 100-tonne multi-cold storage, while Sh20 million will be used to put up modern fish market.
The county will also spend Sh12 million to construct modern fish stalls and a meeting hall at landing sites in all the sub counties. Another Sh6 million will be spent on construction of fish ponds.
The project is aimed at increasing fish production, boosting food security and creating more employment opportunities for women and youth.
At least 44 landing sites will be refurbished at a cost of Sh10 million once the budget is approved. The acquisition and rehabilitation of the sites will be done in collaboration with the Kenya Ports Authority (KPA).
Many landing sites in Mombasa have been grabbed by private developers with efforts by the fishermen to recover them hitting a snag.
According to a 2015 report by Haki Yetu titled Nowhere to Land, there are 50 landing sites in Mombasa that had been grabbed. Reports indicate more have been grabbed since then.
Since last year, both the national and county governments have been on a mission to recover them with the Mombasa administration announcing that it had made a “breakthrough” in the move.
In November last year, President Uhuru Kenyatta directed that all landing sites be recovered. The Fisheries Department then set aside Sh300 million for the operation which included surveying and fencing them.
Last year, Mombasa County gave out 28 high-density fiberglass which were distributed to 14 beach management units (BMU) in the county. Each BMU received two boats and other fishing equipment.
Apart from the fishing gears and the construction of necessary facilities, the county government says it will spend Sh5 million to coordinate all the county’s blue economy activities.
The money will be used for identification of the various opportunities within the sector and package the investment opportunities with potential investors.
Mombasa fishermen have welcomed the plans by the county government saying all the funds allocated to the sector should be put to “the actual and intended work”.
“We know that if all the plans are actualised, then we will have good production of fish. We need all the necessary support for our sector to thrive,” said Khamis Abdallah, a fisherman in Mombasa Old Town.