The move by Tanzania’s President John Pombe Magufuli to declare his country free of Coronavirus is greatly interfering with Kenya’s efforts to contain the spread of the virus in Migori County.
Kenya’s administration at the common border with Tanzania is reportedly finding it difficult enforcing spelt out health protocols on the virus, due to the fact that the two nations share members of the Luo and Kuria communities who usually mingle freely in markets and villages.
It has become almost impossible especially for the law enforcement agencies to deal with those flouting rules on wearing facemasks, because of the difficulty in identifying Kenyans from Tanzanian nationals.
“We are in dilemma enforcing all the laid down rules on the virus within the villages and markets at the common borders because of the free-movements between the nationals of the two neighbouring states who share relatives from both sides of the common border,” said a source from the local police force who asked to remain anonymous.
From Nyamtiro to Ntimaru, Mashangwe to Motemorabu and Kopanga to Muhuru Bay just to mention a few, it has been normal business between the nationals of the two states, while they go about their chores in total disregard to the risks posed by the virus.
A KNA spot-check at Nyamtiro, a market shared by members of the Kuria community from Kenya and Tanzania, recently confirmed that no Kenyan citizens were putting on facemasks largely due to influence by their counterparts from Tanzania where donning masks in public has been declared illegal by President Magufuli.
“We have found it useless covering our faces with these pieces of clothes yet our colleagues from Tanzania are roaming bare and telling us that the virus is not in their country,” said one Mwita Nyamohanga, a grocery seller.
Mr. Nyamohanga challenged Kenya and other countries ‘allegedly’ rocked by the virus to explain to the people why it is only Tanzania where the disease has skipped to convince them to continue wearing masks and follow all the other rules put forward to control the spread of the virus.
“We cannot be told that many people are succumbing in Kenya and elsewhere from Coronavirus, yet our neighbours are not but we mingle with them freely here. Has Tanzania become a special region on earth to escape life calamities or is it a move by countries to get financial freebies from donors?” paused Nyamohanga during an interview with him.
But further investigations by KNA to confirm whether the coronavirus protocols were being adhered to along the villages around the common border found out that all care had been thrown out of the window long time ago.
At a funeral function in Nyabikongori village in Kuria West recently, the crew found out that among a group of 50 human gatherings, only 2 donned facemasks. Nonetheless, even the two sporting the masks wore them wrongly on their chins.
A Tanzanian citizen interviewed at the funeral, Jospina Maleka said back at home people have been made to believe that the virus is just a common flu that nations have exaggerated its dangers.
"Huko Nyumbani hatujaona mtu ambaye amekufa kwa kirusi hiki. Tumeamini tunayo ambiwa na Serikali yetu kwa hivyo hakuna maana ya kujikinga," explained Maleka. (Back at home we have not witnessed anybody succumbing to this virus. We believe all we’re being told by our government that the disease is not in our country so there is no need to take precautions)
Migori County Commissioner Boaz Cherutich, who is chairing the local multi-agency committee on coronavirus control said both the national and county governments were jointly doing everything possible to deal with the virus despite the challenges faced at the common border.
“We are enforcing our mandates here well regardless of the challenges that may be emanating from our neighbouring country to ensure that the virus does not continue to spread among the people,” he told the press recently.
He said all the law enforcement agencies in the region must continue upping their game to ensure that the virus is fought thoroughly for the sake of the people’s safety.
“We will continue to arrest those not observing the social distancing and wearing masks rules in public places and go on with educating the masses to wash and sanitize their hands regularly as a measure to deal with the virus,” he said.
He urged the local people not to follow blindly the culture of the foreigners in regards to the virus, noting that every state has got its way of running its internal affairs.
This article was published by the Kenyan News Agency.