Kajiado residents living along the Kenya -Tanzania border have welcomed the move by President Uhuru Kenyatta to close the border so as to curb the spread of Covid-19.
The residents drawn from Shompole, Namanga and Loitokitok said the high number of Covid -19 positive cases in the neighboring country was a cause of concern and they have been living in fear of contracting the virus.
One of the residents, Daniel Teikan from Loitokitok said Kenyans and Tanzanians have been interacting freely at the border town, thus putting them at risk and the closure of the border would ensure that the virus is kept at bay.
Teikan revealed that Kenyans have been crossing over to Tanzania to visit their relatives or to conduct trade as there are many routes in and out of the country, therefore the presidential directive to close the border was timely.
“I am happy that the President has ordered the border closed. Kenyans and Tanzanians have been interacting freely at the border and the high number of Coronavirus positive cases in Tanzania has been a concern for us as we were living in fear of contracting the virus” he said.
Yet another Elizabeth Senei echoed similar sentiments, while urging the government to tighten security and heighten surveillance, especially at the clandestine routes devised by citizens from both countries.
Senei said Tanzania had not imposed strict measures in handling the pandemic and the continued interaction of persons from the two countries would have resulted in a surge in positive cases.
“I want to urge the government to tighten security at the illegal routes, where Kenyans and Tanzanians alike use boda boda riders to cross over to both sides or walk on foot,” she reiterated.
On his part, Reverend Benjamin Saisi from Namanga thanked the President for listening to their cries to close the border, adding that the move would tame the rising cases of cross border transmission.
Saisi urged residents of Namanga to heed the President’s directive as it was for their own good, as continued interaction with Tanzanians would expose them to the virus as their country had recorded a high number of positive cases.
He noted that more security officials should be deployed at the border town to ensure that Kenyans obey the directive and stop crossing over to Tanzania through illegal routes.
“The closure of the border is welcome and I urge all residents of Namanga to obey the directive as it is for their own good, however more security officers should be sent here to ensure that Kenyans do not cross over to Tanzania because there are those who do not listen,” noted the clerics.
The Chairman of Cross Border Traders Association Keria ole Metina said despite the closure of the border impacting their business negatively, it was welcome as the traders were concerned about getting infected with the virus as some of their customers were from Tanzania.
Metina said it was better for Kenyans to be alive and healthy as they could later rebuild their businesses, instead of risking exposure to the virus.
“The closure of the border will affect our businesses but it is better for us to make losses but remain alive. Businesses can easily be rebuilt later when the virus is under control,” said Metina.
Meanwhile, Kajiado County has so far recorded 21 positive cases, 12 of these cases were of Kenyan truck drivers who crossed over to the country at Namanga from Tanzania, while one case emanated from Loitokitok town.
President Kenyatta Saturday banned movement of persons and passengers in and out of Kenya through the Tanzania and Somalia borders.
Only trucks ferrying cargo shall be exempted from the directive on condition that drivers undergo mandatory tests for coronavirus.
The directive which will remain in force for 21 days is aimed at curbing cross-border transmissions, with the border towns of Namanga and Mandera recording an increase in the number of positive cases.
The number of Coronavirus positive cases in the country stands at 830 with the number of fatalities rising to 50, while 301 people have so far recovered from the virus.
By Rop Janet