Fish traders in Busia County have been urged to form groups in order to sell their produce without passing through middlemen.
Speaking to the press after meeting the traders at Soko matope and Busia fish transshipment market on Wednesday, the Chairman of Kenya Fish Marketing Authority, Ochieng Mbeo said that the move will cushion them from exploitation from unscrupulous fish dealers.
“We are trying to reorganize them in groups so that they can take their own fish without having middlemen come around because we have now opened the way,” he said.
Mbeo pointed out that the stalemate between fish traders and the Ugandan authorities over transshipment of the commodity to the Democratic Republic of Congo has been resolved.
He assured the fish traders that the government has lodged a complaint through the foreign affairs office to address the issue of more than Sh. 40 million lost by a section of traders early this year when their fish was confiscated by the Ugandan authorities.
“So let’s give it time because we have followed protocol through the foreign office and we hope that all will be well,” he said.
Busia County Commissioner Sam Ojwang assured the traders that he will work closely with the Kenya Fish Marketing Authority, Kenya National Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the fish trader’s leadership to ensure that they reap from their fish business.
“We will work closely with the government of Uganda and DRC to ensure that emerging challenges affecting the fish traders are addressed,” he said.
Ojwang’ further said that his team will work closely with the County government to ensure that the environment is conducive for traders.
“We thank the County Government for coming up with this market but it is not hygienically friendly,” he said adding that there was need to improve it to ensure that the market meets the standards of public health.
He further said that both the county and national government team had put in place measures to ensure that local residents do not contract Ebola disease.
“We are also working closely with the government of Uganda to ensure that those who come from Mubende do not cross over to Kenya unless they are screened,” he said.
Ojwang’ at the same time urged the local residents to refrain from transacting business at Mubembe in DRC where this disease has been confirmed.
“We want to ask our people to be responsible and reduce their visits to Mubende where cases of Ebola has been confirmed,” said the county boss.
Busia County Chairman for fish traders Francis Aketch said that his team is no longer transacting business through middlemen
Aketch expressed satisfaction that fish traders do not have challenges with the Ugandan authorities as they transport their merchandise to DRC.
Early this year, fish traders staged peaceful demonstrations in Busia town after four lorries ferrying fish to DRC were intercepted and confiscated by Ugandan authorities arguing that they were immature fish from the Ugandan side of Lake Victoria.
By Salome Alwanda