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Alarm over cross-border travel on Lake Victoria amid Covid-19

Tuesday May 19 2020

Fishermen at work in Usenge on the shores of

Fishermen at work in Usenge on the shores of Lake Victoria on May 12. There are fears that traders from Uganda and Tanzania are secretly crossing the lake into Siaya County. PHOTO | TONNY OMONDI | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

DICKENS WASONGA
By DICKENS WASONGA
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Security agencies in Nyanza are grappling with the rising number of foreigners sneaking into Siaya County from neighbouring countries through Lake Victoria. Tanzanian and Ugandan nationals are reportedly sneaking into the country through Mageta, Ndeda and Oyamo islands in Siaya County.

CORONAVIRUS INFECTIONS

The illegal migration now poses serious challenges to security agencies in the region, amid the risk of coronavirus infections.

The issue has been worsened by the fact that most of the landing beaches and islands are not manned by police.

Residents of the islands are at risk of contracting coronavirus following the influx of foreigners.

Mr Joseph Odongo, a resident of Mageta Island says most of them now live in fear. They have called on security agencies to curtail the cross-border movements.

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Last week, Bondo Sub-County Security Intelligence Committee decided to map key islands that are emerging as preferred illegal routes by the foreigners.

SURVEILLANCE

The foreigners are said to be avoiding border points in Isebania in Migori County and Busia which are already under tight surveillance to control possibility of importation of Covid-19 from the two countries.

A police officer who spoke to the Nation on condition of anonymity said that while the Tanzanians who sneak to Bondo were interested in gold business, the Ugandans trade in charcoal, maize and other cereals in Usenge beach, Mageta island and Osieko on the border of Siaya and Busia counties.

A source from the Siaya County Covid-19 response team, however said some Tanzanians may be fleeing from the disease back home.

“We are not ruling out the possibility that the other reason of more people crossing over from Tanzania could be out of fear of Covid-19 in that country," the source said.

TANZANIANS ARRESTED
The neighbouring country had seen a surge in the number of Covid-19 positive cases being reported, before it stopped releasing updated figures altogether.
The Nation has established that a week ago, nine Tanzanians were arrested by the police at Wagusu beach.
They were later taken to Siaya KMTC campus grounds where they were put on a 14-day forced quarantine where four of them escaped.
Bondo Deputy County Commissioner Tom Macheneri told the Nation that only four Tanzanians had been arrested.