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Officials in Namanga flirting with coronavirus

Saturday April 4 2020


The one-stop Kenya-Tanzania border in Namanga. PHOTO | FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

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Entry point on Kenya’s porous borders are a setback to the fight against the coronavirus.

Despite the government’s ban on the entry of foreigners, illegal visitors keep sneaking in and out of the country at will.

In Namanga, on the Kenya-Tanzania border, citizens of the two countries have established clandestine routes to beat the cross-border travel ban.

Locals slammed the government for inadequate measures undertaken to prevent infected visitors from spreading the disease.

Residents urged the government to put testing kits and set up quarantine centres at border points.

“The government claims to have banned visitors’ entry at the border point but they are still streaming in illegally.


“Let it supply testing kits to health centres at borders. We fear that visitors might sneak in the deadly virus,” said Mr Ibrahim Abraham, a trader.

Residents urged the government to classify border entry points as high-risk areas as is the case with airports.

A spot check at the border point on Thursday showed that a handful of health officials only check the body temperature of those entering the country.

During the visit, only three Health ministry officials were on duty.

Ideally, only trucks ferrying goods should be allowed into the country.

However, the number of those entering the country was quite high.  

Most staff at the customs office were not wearing face masks. They also did not disinfect their hands with sanitiser while in the hall.

 There was a single handwashing point at the entrance to the hall.

Despite a directive by the government that only trucks carrying essential goods should be allowed into the country, residents said  cross-border movement continues unregulated.

Residents said that the directive that trucks be escorted by security officers to their destinations and back to check interactions was not being followed to the letter.

Truck and public service vehicle drivers ferrying cargo and passengers on the Namanga-Nairobi road do not wear protective gear such as face masks and gloves, further heightening the Covid-19 scare.

Officials at the border post refused to comment on the matter.

But Kajiado County Commissioner Joshua Nkanatha said the government will strengthen the fight against the coronavirus at the border.

“The border point remains porous but we are trying to minimise illegal entry,” Mr Nkanatha said.

“So far the government has not supplied testing kits at border points, we can only check the temperature of those entering the Kenyan territory.”

He said the government plans to work with Tanzanian authorities to tighten movement restrictions.

Kajiado County has two gazetted border points, Namanga and Tara, but there are numerous illegal entry points along the common boundary.