Closure of Tanzania-Kenya border was long overdue

Sunday, May 17th, 2020 00:00 |
Public health officers take body temperatures of the members of the public at Kencom Bus Stop, Nairobi as part of efforts to stop the spread of coronavirus. PD/Samuel Kariuki

The decision to close Kenya’s borders with Tanzania and Somalia as the country strives to stop spread of the coronavirus was long overdue.

While announcing the move, President Uhuru Kenyatta said he was imposing more measures after it emerged some of the cases had crossed the border from Tanzania and Somalia.

The two countries share long and porous borders with Kenya touching on several counties. According to the President, the decision was remedial.

Experts have warned that Tanzania particularly poses a major threat to Kenya after its President John Maguli adopted a lone-ranger, impervious attitude in the fight against the pandemic.

Already, Kenya has blocked 78 truck drivers from Tanzania from entering the country.

Uhuru, however, exempted cargo trucks but said the truckers would have to be tested for Covid-19.

Fully aware of the pain and inconveniences the protocols announced by the government to stem spread of the deadly respiratory disease would cayse, the President asked Kenyans to adhere to avert an escalation in infections and fatalities.

On May 3, the Tanzanian president triggered global conspiracy theories after he said fruits and inanimate objects he had had secretly sent to the East African nation’s main lab had turned positive for Covid-19.

Since then, one of its southern neighbours, Zambia, has shut down its border with the country.

And even as the Covid-19 cases continue to soar, Magufuli has been ambivalent, his strategy in the war still shrouded in mystery. 

Reports from US Embassy in Dar es Salaam suggest that the Tanzanian government has failed to release any data on Covid-19 in Tanzania since April 29 so there is no clear picture on the true position of diagnosis of the population affected. 

Magufuli last week snubbed a virtual meeting of East African leaders on Covid-19.

While other countries have taken measures, Magufuli has been recklessly dangerous.

Only yesterday, he ordered the Transport ministry to allow in more flights saying the in-bound passengers will not go into quarantine. 

While we commend the Uhuru’s decision to close the border, we think the move, like others responses to the crisis, came too late.

It mirrors the delay by Kenya to suspend international travel which was the cause of the first batch of Covid-19 cases imported before community transmission. A stitch in time saves nine.

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