By Joyce Namutebi,Shamim Saad and Brenda Nakayiwa
Fish storage is one of the major challenges denying the country endowed by nature to enjoy its main aquatic food. Given the perishable and seasonal nature of fish, its storage and preservation still remains a challenge to vendors in the markets.
They have appealed to the Government to put up an ice plant where they can buy affordable ice to use in their coolers.
Nakawa market fish vendors say they resort to using improvised coolers to preserve their fish because they cannot afford to buy refrigerators.
“There is a nearby ice plant but sometimes when we go there, we find no ice. They don’t even work on public holidays and preserving our fish becomes a problem,” said Sula Mulo, the chairman Nakawa market fish department.
He also noted that although fisher men put the fish in ice as soon as its caught, once it leaves for the market, it is easily affected by heat.
Mulo explained further that the situation worsens when fish is brought to the market and there’s no ice to preserve it before customers buy it off.
Josephine Achieng, a fish vendor who has been in the business for about 13 years explained that most of them cannot afford to buy fridges because they have many other demands to meet.
Josephine Achieng talking to the New Vision reporter on pressing issues in fish business.
Photo by Moses Kimera
Call to government
“Government should build an ice plant for us because preserving fish is very expensive. The Money you would earn as profit is instead used to buy ice,” she said.
Achieng also asked the Government to reduce on the cost of electricity so that ice makers reduce its cost.
“The ice makers always complain of electricity being very expensive,” she said.
Audio recorded by Ruth Faith Naknwagi and edited by Moses Kimera
Cost of ice
A 50 kg bag of ice, she said, costs between Sh12, 000 and Sh14,000 and if the fish is a lot, this ice only works for a night.
She also observed that sometimes the ice melts before use and this jeopardises their businesses.
Most of the fish in Nakawa market come from Kiyindi, Katosi and Peya Islands of Lake Victoria.
There’s scarcity of fish as reflected on one of stalls . Photo by Moses Kimera
Frank Birirwa, who has been in the business of fish transportation for about 15 years expressed concern about the current scarcity of fish, which he attributed to weather changes.
“For about three weeks, there has been little fish brought onto the market because fishermen fear to venture into the lake when it’s stormy,” Birirwa said as he pointed towards empty fish stalls.
He explained that on a good day he can bring in a pick-up full of fish, but now he only brings in about 60 fish.
Achieng also expressed concern about the current scarcity of fish and low sales.
“Fish is a seasonal business, it depends on weather. If the weather is good, we get plenty but when it becomes stormy, fishermen fear capsizing,” she explained
Acheing also noted that if there is moonlight, the fish run away when fishermen cast their nets and if there is too much sunshine, the fish goes deep down in the waters.
With proper storage, Fish can remain fresh for reasonably a long time. Photo by Moses Kimera
According to Mulo, the chairman, each vendor pays sh9,100 to Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA ) in tax but claimed that the authority does not clean the place.
However, he is grateful that KCCA has provided garbage skip near by.
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Video by Agnes Bulega and Moses Walugembe