Migori Governor Okoth Obado yesterday made a triumph entry in disputed Migingo island to address increased harassment of Kenyan fishermen and traders on the island by Uganda officials.
The governor declared to the traders that the island remains not just a Kenyan territory but an important naval resource for Kenya in the great lakes region thus should be reclaimed by the national government. He was shocked at the deplorable condition of the island, despite the traders paying taxes to Uganda officials, who forcefully confiscate their wares whenever there are disputes.
In what is likely to heighten the confrontation between Kenya and Uganda, Gov. Obado told the traders that his government has set aside funds to construct a health centre, an pre-school ECDE centre and a police post in the island.
“This island is one of the richest in fish reserves. The Ugandans came here when fish harvests started dwindling on their side of the lake. And while we welcomed them in the spirit of good neighbourliness, they took advantage of Kenya’s internal politics to take over. The Governor was not an elected leader then but he feels strongly about it. He’ll get it back,” an aide to Governor Obado told this writer.
Governor Obado also said the county will power the island with electricity, wondering what plans Uganda had to develop the island despite claiming it.
Ever since ascending to power and despite his closeness with Uganda President Yoweri Museveni, President Uhuru has remained mum over the fate of the island which Uganda ‘claimed’ in the last days of the grand coalition government.
There are those who believe President Kibaki let go the island in exchange of an area in eastern Uganda where kikuyu IDPs who were displaced from Busia and other western province areas now occupy.