Ksh2 billion modern fish facility constructed by the ministry of Agriculture nine years ago to promote quality fish handling and preservation at Majanji Landing Site in Busia District is lying empty after being abandoned by farmers and traders.
Funded by the African Development Bank (ADB) in 2010, the fish facility was fully equipped with a plant that produces five tonnes of ice every day for fish preservation, stalls, dryers and stores, washrooms and a water pump, among others. But at as now, it has been deserted, left covered in shrubs with some of the equipment stolen and others destroyed.
Hell broke loose when the district authorities in charge stopped residents from operating the facility, three years after it was opened to the public.
According to Mr Clement Wanyama, the chairperson of Majanji Parish the residents under their umbrella body, Majanji Fisheries Association, had started producing ice and selling fish in the market, but the officials came in and kicked them out of the fish facility.
“We were producing the best ice at the plant, which we were selling to Busia, Tororo and Bugiri districts before we were stopped. We had started handling about 30 tonnes of fish on a daily basis but we were surprised when the district authorities came and ordered us out of the facility,” noted Mr Anthony Ouma, chairperson of the Majanji Fish Cooperative.
Fish traders were strongly convinced that the then chief administrative officer and the district fisheries officer were hatching a plan to have the market managed by a group of people from Busia District and not the residents of Majanji a move which they opposed. The facility was however handed over to traders under Busia Fisheries Association, who mismanaged the facility, vandalised the ice plant and water pumps in the facility, before disappearing into thin air.
The district fisheries officer confirmed he had sent away the residents because they were operating illegally at the facility. He noted that by the time the construction of the market was complete, the fish stocks had been depleted
“When the ministry of Agriculture handed over the market to the district, they gave us guidelines on how it should be operated but this group connived with politicians and illegally started using the facility,” Mr Egessa said.
Residents say they were excited when the government embarked on the construction of the fish market but now they regret because there has been no value for money and that it should intervene and investigate the issue.