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Kenyans troop to Tanzania for beer amid rising COVID-19 infection

Namanga immigration offices.
Namanga immigration offices.
Longido DC Frank Mwaisumbe ordered Tanzanian truck drivers to be tested for Coronavirus in their country and be issued with health certificates which should be used to clear them into Kenya.

Namanga border town in Kajiado has been thrown into a state of confusion after Tanzanian authorities dismissed Kenya’s government Coronavirus tests on her truck drivers.

Namanga Town.
Namanga town

Longido District Commissioner, Frank Mwaisumbe, while speaking to Tanzania’s Azam TV news at Namanga town after touring their immigration offices said on Thursday he does not trust Kenyan authorities in testing Tanzanians.

Mwaisumbe, who was quoted and seen speaking live on TV, said; “We do not trust any testing done on our drivers without the supervision of our doctors.”

Consequently, Mwaisumbe ordered Tanzanian truck drivers to be tested for Coronavirus in their country and be issued with health certificates which should be used to clear them into Kenya.

The Longido boss said; “And if that cannot be possible, the owners of goods being transported to Kenya should come for them at the border as our drivers will have no other option but to leave them in Namanga.”

Residents’ Fear

A resident of Namanga, Faith Shona said truck drivers from Tanzania who undergo testing do not stay in one place as they await results, and fears many people may contract COVID-19.

Our effort to interview Mwaisumbe on the telephone hit a snag after calls failed to go through. We tried calling the commissioner from the morning on Thursday but never went through.

The Tanzanian authorities criticised the results of Coronavirus tests made on Tuesday by the Ministry of Health Chief Administrative Secretary Rashid Aman.

Aman had said that nine of the cases were reported in Kajiado County from truck drivers who came in from neighbouring Tanzania, which borders the county to the south.

“The nine cases from Kajiado are all Kenyan truck drivers who were returning from Tanzania and tested at the Namanga border point. These nine cases were positive among the other drivers that were tested,” Aman had said.

Kenyan Clarification

Aman had also clarified that Kenya was testing Tanzanian truck drivers before they entered the country and would notify authorities in Tanzania of any positive result to allow them to take up the cases.

As a result of this, Aman said that five Tanzania drivers were found to have contracted the virus.

Mwaisumbe is alleged to have invited the 5 Tanzanians, who tested positive of COVID-19 on Tuesday, and had a meal with them as he advised them to seek proper testing from their country’s health ministry.

But as the two governments remain in distrust against each other, a section of Namanga residents claim the situation in the border town is “so volatile” that the disease could erupt any minute.

Rev. Benjamin Saisi, a resident on Namanga border town, told KNU yesterday that the border is wide open as Kenyans and their neighbours cross at will without any checks.

Government’s Assertion

Saisi dismissed the Kenya government’s assertion that people from the two sides use panya routes to cross to either side and claimed there were no controls of any kind at the entry point.

He said civil servants and civilians from the Kenyan side of Namanga border town cross into Tanzania to buy food and drink beer as if “all is well”.

“We are seeing people coming back to Kenya drunk in the evenings as they sing praises in the name of Tanzanian President John Magufuli because he has allowed bars to operate full time,” said Saisi.

Saisi also raised concern that truck drivers from across the border remain untested for weeks as they mingle and sleep with Kenyans.

Daniel Pariken, another resident, said Namanga’s no man’s land that stretches about 100 metres is wide open and bars along the borderline on the Tanzanian side are full of Kenyans drinking beer.

Peter Kores, another resident, admitted that he goes to the other side of the border to drink beer because the Kenya government has closed all the bars.

“I am drinking my money, and that government is not even feeding us. We trust Magufuli [President] in this…Nobody is sick here,” Kores who appeared inebriated said.

 

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