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Kajiado residents express concern on porous border

Residents of Namanga in Kajiado County have appealed to the government to tighten security at the border to curb the spread of Covid-19.

The residents say citizens of Kenya and Tanzania continue to mingle freely without undergoing any screening putting them at risk of contracting the virus.

Area residents expressed their worry about the high number of positive cases in Tanzania adding that the neighbouring country had not imposed any strict measures in handling the pandemic.

Innocent Munene, a resident of Namanga town, revealed that Kenyans cross over to Tanzania to party and drink as bars in Kenya are currently shut down while those in Tanzania also cross over to Kenya to trade.

Munene said there are many ‘panya routes’ that one can use to cross the border and this was posing us a big challenge in curbing the spread of the virus as people continue to cross over on both sides anytime.

“Life in Tanzania is going on as usual, their bars and restaurants are open and Kenyans sneak over there to drink and come back at will as there are many clandestine routes to get to Tanzania. This behavior is putting us at risk as Tanzania has recorded many positive cases of Coronavirus, “he said.

He added that goods were also cheaper in Tanzania hence residents and traders prefer to cross the border through the illegal routes to shop.

Joseph Motonga claimed that pastors in the area cross over to Tanzania to preach and hold crusades since churches are shutdown in Kenya.

Motonga said those crossing over were endangering the lives of everyone and they should be arrested and held in for crossing the border.

Another resident, Benjamin Saisi called on the government to conduct mass testing of Covid -19 in the area and open more quarantine centres.

Saisi expressed his concern that a high number of Namanga residents could already be infected due to the interaction with Tanzanians.

He urged the government to conduct public sensitisation on Covid -19 in the area and to provide them with sanitisers and face masks.
“The government should conduct mass testing here as residents of both countries continue to interact. Public education on this virus should also be done and locals provided with sanitisers and masks,“ said Saisi.

A spot check by KNA at the Namanga border town on Saturday revealed that it was quite easy to cross over to the Tanzanian side.

Many routes which are accessible to the public were not manned by security officials and Kenyans could be seen crossing over to the Tanzanian side on foot.

Vehicles and trucks only go thorough security checks at the official One Stop Border Post but if one is walking, they just cross over without any restrictions.

Many residents could also be spotted conducting their businesses without observing social distancing or wearing face masks.

Rift Valley Regional Commissioner George Natembeya last week toured the Namanga One Stop Border Post and warned Kenyans and Tanzanians crossing the border illegally that they would be arrested and held in quarantine for 14 days.

“We are pleading with people to be responsible and ensure they are not putting others at risk through their actions. Any Kenyan or Tanzanian caught using illegal routes will be arrested and placed under quarantine for 14 days,” said Natembeya.

Kajiado County has so far recorded seven Covid -19 positive cases with three of the cases having a history of travel to and from Tanzania.

By Rop Janet

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