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Somalia border in Lamu to be reopened for trade

Thursday June 18, 2020

A group of fishermen take sail in Kiunga,Lamu East. (Photo by: CHETI PRAXIDES)

The national government is set to partly reopen the Kenya-Somalia border in Lamu to allow fishermen and traders whose livelihoods were hurt the by closure to resume business.

In June last year, the national government closed the border as a measure to counter human trafficking, terror and smuggling of contraband goods.

The fishermen and traders in the county have for decades engaged in successful cross-border trade with Somalia.

The closure of the border led to an increased number of fishermen and traders smuggling their wares through the porous border.

Speaking in his office on Wednesday, county commissioner Irungu Macharia said plans were underway to allow fishermen and a few traders carry on with their business.

Macharia said his office had taken into consideration the fact that fishing is among the key economic earners for Lamu and that it was at risk of total collapse due to the Covid-19 pandemic and subsequent precautionary measures.

The administrator said he had met numerous fishermen and affected traders.

He said his office will soon meet the county security committee, county leadership and stakeholders to find ways for the fishermen and traders to be allowed to carry on with their trade cross-border, though under stricter regulations to guard against the spread of coronavirus.  

“But because the border issue has to do with national security, whatever we do, there will be regulations to abide by,” Macharia said.

For the longest time, Lamu fishermen have conducted their fishing editions inside Somali waters while the war-torn country remains their best market.

Fish mongers are known to purchase both fresh and dry fish from Mogadishu and Kismayu port cities and sell as far as Mombasa and Nairobi.

In April, the government torched 12 tonnes of dry fish worth over Sh5 million after they were siezed while being smuggled from Somalia to Mombasa via the Kiunga border point in Lamu.

On April 7, the Kenya Coast Guard officials in Lamu torched a consignment of Miraa worth Sh25 Million that was being smuggled to Somalia.



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