Some of the cross boarder traders stuck with their goods in Mpondwe on Thursday
Local fish traders in Kasese will no longer export their fish and products to markets in the Democratic Republic of Congo-DR Congo. They will strictly sell their products in Mpondwe Market in Kasese.
When Uganda closed open markets in 2020 to contain the spread of COVID-19, local fish traders in Kasese and beyond opted to take their fish directly to DRC. Because of the better prices across the border, even when the Mpondwe fish market re-opened in December last year, the traders continued crossing to cross to DRC.
This triggered an outcry from local business people, porters, and the town council authorities who have been benefiting directly from the fish business in the market. However, during a stakeholders meeting, it was resolved only licensed fish traders will be allowed to cross DRC.
The meeting attracted Ugandan traders, politicians, and security teams from both countries. Kasese RDC Lt. Joe Walusimbi says that the move is meant to regulate the fish business and help the domestic market also thrive. He says that once the local fish market is deserted it hurts the local economy.
Chuta Charles Omeoga, the Bennie Administrator in DRC, said that unregulated fish business had previously fueled between DRC and Uganda. He says that both countries can only preserve the lake if the fish business is fully regulated.
Stanley Bwambale, the chairperson of Fish Traders in Mpondwe, says that the fish market attracts hundreds of Congolese who also acquire other services once they have come to Uganda.
Sylvester Mapozi, the LC III chairperson of Mpondwe lhubiriha Town council, says that the town council has been losing close to Shillings 60 million in the last two years when the fish market was closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which has affected service delivery in the town council.
Kasese LC V chairperson, Eliphazi Muhindi, says that Mpondwe is an international market that would have not let to die. He says that both teams have in unanimity resolved that petty traders from both countries be regulated so that domestic markets can thrive.
Falene Kasayi, a fish trader from DR Congo had welcomed the move, arguing that it will reduce the competition between local and bulky fish traders.