Fish traders in Naivasha have appealed to the County government of Nakuru to waive business operating license fees to cushion them from incurring losses occasioned by the on-going movement restrictions imposed on five counties most hit by the Covid-19 pandemic.
Kamere fish landing beach chairman Wesley Kimutai claimed that fish business operators around Lake Naivasha were incurring huge losses as a result of the current lockdown measures.
He regretted that the partial lockdown was impeding movement of fish from the area to markets in other regions making the prices of fish drop by 50 percent.
Kimutai said fish from the Lake was in high demand and traders get orders from as far as Mombasa and Eldoret which was now impossible to access due to the restrictions.
“Our traders need urgent help to save the fisheries sector from looming collapse,” he said.
Kimutai lamented that fish traders and fishermen alike were registering heavy losses by day as a result of limited access to markets and appealed to the government to act fast to save the sector from collapse.
The traders and the fishermen now want both the national and county governments to provide financial support or market the produce for them to help their businesses stay afloat and sustain their livelihoods during the pandemic.
While they voiced their support for the government efforts in the fight against the virus, the traders and the fishermen also asked the authorities to avail the vaccines to the fishing fraternity and strictly enforce the Covid -19 containment measures to help contain the spread of the virus that will help ease the restrictions soonest.
A prominent fish trader identified as Karen Achieng’ said the closure of hotels in the area, which served as their main clients, had adversely affected their businesses with the prices of fish dropping sharply due to reduced number of customers.
Achieng’ added that reduction of workforce in the flower farms in the area coupled with relatively difficult economic conditions have also contributed to lower fish prices owing to reduced purchasing power of the consumers.
Another trader, Drusilla Nyambeke voiced concern that many of them are facing difficulties in repaying their banks loans due to low profits and added they now fear the institutions auctioning their assets if the crisis is not addressed on time.
A spokesperson for area fishermen Jeremiah Mwangi said fish was plenty in the lake but the number of customers had significantly reduced forcing them to sell their catch at throw-away prices to the traders.
Picture and story by Erastus Gichohi and Esther Mwangi