Reports of a serious shortage of fish were recorded within parts of Migori County as residents marked this year’s Christmas holiday.
Many residents were disappointed for lack of fish in their Christmas menu, blaming brokers for what they termed as ‘their move to create artificial shortages.’
During the festivity, residents scrambled for the few fish that could be found on the market racks, but whose prices had been hiked beyond the means of the majority of the people.
Claims were rife that the shortage had been intentionally triggered by some unscrupulous fishmongers, with a view to fleecing merry makers of their money through illegal price hikes.
“I went to shop for fish a day to Christmas but there was none to take home because of the hiked prices that I could not manage with my limited money,” said Joyce Anyango, who decided to cancel fish meal in her Christmas menu for her family.
From Rongo to Nyatike, Uriri, Awendo and to Kehancha towns, the narrative about the shortage of fish was the same and many merry makers opted to go for meat and chicken that were found to be affordable.
A spot-check by KNA found out that the price of fish had jumped to Sh. 650 for a 1kg size, up from Sh. 300 the same size.
“It is some brokers who bought a huge consignment of the fish from the source in Lake Victoria and then sold it to dealers in markets at exorbitant prices,” claimed one resident, Mariko Dienya.
But real fish traders defended the prices saying supply from the lake has been dwindling since June this year, due to the problems fishermen were experiencing from Uganda fisheries officials and overfishing activities in the lake.
“We had to push up the cost of fish to consumers because we are also paying for it dearly from fishermen who also want to break even in trading with the commodity that is becoming rare day by day, besides the fishers war with the Ugandan authorities,” said Mr. Alfayo Otieno, a fish trader at the Migori Market.
However, Mr. Peter Maende, the Aneko Beach Management Unit chairman, said the price hikes were unwarranted and pushed by selfish traders who wanted to take advantage of the festive period to make a kill in their businesses.
“The fish supply has been okay and I do not support such exorbitant increase in prices meant to rob residents of their money. True, we have myriad problems dogging us in the lake as we go about our activities but this cannot be a reason for some people to decide to raise the prices of fish in the market,” he told KNA by phone from Muhuru Bay.
By George Agimba