Uganda and Kenya have signed an agreement aimed at ending the Migingo Island’s security stalemate.
In the deal, there will be a joint management of the island to avert any security crisis as the residents wait for results from the Sh240 million demarcation exercise conducted in 2009.
The meeting held in Migori County’s Macalder town in Kenya at the weekend saw Nyatike Sub-County Commissioner Moses Ivuto and his Ugandan counterpart Namaingo DC John Wafula sign the deal in the presence of civil servants from relevant ministries, security officers and political leaders from the two countries.
Speaking soon after the meeting, Mr Ivuto said the decision to have the meeting had been influenced by the need to ensure that fishermen operating on the island are able to go on with their businesses without any interruption as they wait for the final decision on the fate of the island.
“We have decided that a new Migingo Beach Management Unit with both Kenyans and Ugandans is the way to go,” he said, adding that this was reached after thorough consultation by delegations from both countries.
The unit, expected to be in place soon, will settle fishing disputes on the island. It is to also help in tracking down cases of poaching and tax evasion.
Part of the unit’s mandate will be to sensitise locals of the legal tariffs to be paid by fishermen crossing over to fish in the Ugandan or Kenyan waters.
Ivuto said the meeting was a follow-up to last month’s meeting on the island by police boss David Kimaiyo and his Ugandan counterpart Kale Kayihura, which resolved to ensure that there was peace.
During the last month’s meeting, the two officers gave a join communiqué on how to solve security issues and sought to end cases of fishermen being harassed in the island.
The Macalder meeting was just to enforce what had been agreed.
Speaking after making the decision, Migingo Beach Management Unit chairman Juma Ombori said it was an important move to normalise operations on the island.
Migingo Island, whose dispute started in 2008, covers 2,000 metres square with a population of less than 500 people.
According to Kenyan authorities, the island ownership has been consistently shown on maps since 1926 to be under the Kenyan territory.
In May 2009, Uganda President Yoweri Museveni claimed the island was in Kenya but its fishermen were illegally fishing in Ugandan waters which lie about 500 metres to the west of the island.