TACKLING COVID-19

Malaba border officials heighten surveillance to halt virus spread

Police have increased patrols to deal those planning to gain entry through illegal routes

In Summary

Authorities overwhelmed by the high number of Kenyans crossing into Uganda to buy goods and enjoy themselves in bars and those entering from Uganda

A Port Health official screens people entering Kenya at the Malaba Border point in Busia on Wednesday, March 18, 2020
TIGHT RULES: A Port Health official screens people entering Kenya at the Malaba Border point in Busia on Wednesday, March 18, 2020
Image: EMOJONG OSERE

 

 

Authorities have heightened coronavirus surveillance at the Malaba border point to ensure those trying to sneak into the country do not succeed.

They are alert after 13 Chinese and three Tanzanians were denied entry int the country at the Lunga Lunga point in Kwale county.

Authorities suspect many such people might resort to unorthodox means to enter the country.

Malaba Immigration boss Francis Oketch told journalists on Thursday that they had received information that the 13 Chinese and three Tanzanians were trying to enter Kenya through illegal routes that are not manned by immigration officials.

Oketch said they had received the names of the 16 foreigners and their passport numbers to ensure they are blocked from entering Kenya.

He said immigration officers were vigilant and will ensure the foreigners do not gain access to Kenya as the country rolls out measures to fight the spread of coronavirus.

“Those we are denying entry are those who are not allowed to enter Kenya and are trying to enter the country through other means, especially illegal routes. But we have informed an inter-agency team to be on the lookout. Mostly those being denied entry are those from countries affected by coronavirus,” Oketch said.

He added, "In Malaba, we have talked as a border management committee and we have discussed how to approach it as a team. The police have increased their patrols because they might want to use other means to enter Kenya. Anyone who will try to enter Kenya illegally through Malaba won’t succeed.”

The foreigners barred in Kwale on Tuesday are said to have travelled from China on March 4 and 15. The coronavirus pandemic originated from the Asian country although China seems to have arrested its spread.

It has since killed close to 9,000 people with more than 200,000 infected across the globe. About 90,000 have recovered although the virus attacks even those who have just recovered.

Kenya has so far confirmed seven cases of the virus.

Lunga Lunga deputy county commissioner on Wednesday said the immigrants claimed they were going for a special assignment at the Bamburi Cement Company in Mombasa.

But after interrogation, border officers realised the 16 foreign nationals had flouted the coronavirus safety rules. They were denied clearance at the Lunga Lunga One-Stop Border Point.

The three Tanzanians were drivers. They were all deported through Horohoro border point in Tanzania.

Oketch said nationals from Rwanda, Burundi and the Democratic Republic of Congo are also not allowed to enter the country since their countries have already recorded cases of coronavirus.

He said health workers at the Malaba Port were grappling to screen a huge number of people especially pedestrians and boda boda riders who cross the border daily.

He said the multi-agency team at one of East and Central Africa’s busiest entry and exit points are applying all available solutions to make sure every traveller is screened.

Oketch said the workers were getting overwhelmed by the huge number of Ugandans crossing into Kenya to buy household items before returning to Uganda.

There was a similarly high number of Kenyans crossing into Uganda to buy goods and enjoy themselves at entertainment joints before returning home, he said.

 

edited by peter obuya