APs detained in Uganda fishing row finally freed

Henry Andanje @PeopleDailyKe

Five people arrested near Huma and Mageta islands in Lake Victoria by Ugandan police on Monday over fishing territory row have been handed over to the Kenyan authorities.

The three Administration Police officers from Quick Response Team (QRT) and two civilians, a coxswain and his assistant, arrived at Busia border point at 6.30pm on Tuesday escorted by Uganda policemen where they were received by area County Commissioner Michael ole Tialal and his Siaya counterpart Jacob Narengo.

Ole Tialal later held a closed door meeting with Narengo and Busia Uganda Resident District Commissioner Hussein Matanda.

Speaking to the press after the meeting,  Matanda disputed claims the officers were tortured by Uganda People’s Defence Force (UPDF). “The Kenyan police officers were not tortured by Uganda security officers when they were arrested because they were taken to a guest house at Namaingo Island instead of a police cell,”  he said.

Matanda said the three AP officers had crossed into Uganda to rescue fishermen who had been arrested there for using unrecommended fishing gear when they were overpowered by their Ugandan  counterparts and disarmed.

He said a scuffle ensued between Kenya and Uganda security officers  during which 14 rounds of ammunition were fired from one AK-47 belonging to a Kenyan police officer.  Nobody was injured during the incident.

He confessed that Kenyan fishermen are harassed in Lake Victoria by Ugandan security officers because they use the wrong fishing gear.

Matanda said the situation should be addressed once and for all by the two governments to promote peaceful co-existence.

“Kenyan fishermen are free to fish in Lake Victoria like their Tanzanian counterparts so long as they use the recommended fishing gear,” he said.

Matanda said that plans are underway to have joint security patrols between Kenyan and Ugandan officers in Lake Victoria is one way to enhance unity among the two nations.

On his part, Narengo said the Ugandan government has assured them that six fishermen, who are still being detained will be released immediately adding that  three officers will be counselled because they were traumatised.

“It is Uganda security officers who have been harassing fishermen from Siaya and Busia counties in Lake Victoria,” said Narengo, adding that there is need for  to demarcate he boundary between the two nations to end the frequent arrests.

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