Communities living along the Kenya/Tanzania border want the two countries to keep good diplomatic relationship for the sake of development of the East Africa region.
The residents from Migori County said they fear the ongoing diplomatic spats over the partial closure of the common border between the two nations could ‘kill’ the gains already made in the region on trade and social co-existence.
“The emergence of Covid-19 must not be allowed to create a frosty relation between the two nations that for decades have enjoyed good diplomatic relations,” said Mr. Peter Wambura, a resident of Gwitembe village in Kuria East Sub County.
President Kenyatta on Saturday May 16 ordered for the closure of the border for free human cargo except trucks carrying goods in a bid to curb importation of Coronavirus into the country from outside.
However on Monday, Tanzania authority responded by shutting its border for Kenyans, leading to a situation that is turning out like a diplomatic rivalry between the two sister countries.
But a spot-check by KNA in Migori county revealed high hope among the residents that leaders from the two nations would soon work out a strategy that will defuse the emerging tension and effectively address the negative impacts of the Convid-19 within the region.
Mr. Maurice Onyango a resident of Muhuru Bay, underscored the need for the Kenya government to urgently engage the Tanzania authority on a bilateral talk over the closure of the common border with a view to peacefully mitigating the emerging differences.
“We cannot afford to see the good relations between the people Kenya and Tanzania waste away because of embracing divergent ways of fighting Coronavirus,’ said Onyango adding:
“Let leaders from the opposite sides sit down and address their differences peacefully on the table to allow lives of their citizenry continue normally,” he said.
Kenya imports almost 70 per cent of its vegetables and fruits from Tanzania while the latter also depends on huge imports of industrial goods from Kenya.
“The bad relations between Kenya and Tanzania will obviously affect my grocery business which relies on supply from across the border through Isebania,” said Ms Milka Atieno, a fruits seller in Migori town.
Worst affected by the closure of the common border are the Kuria and Luo communities whose members transcend the borderline.
“We have the Kenyan Kuria and Tanzania Kuria. There is the Kenyan Luo and Tanzania Luo. Some of these families have relatives on both sides of the border and have been living as one people,” said Samwel Kerata, the chairman of the Kuria council of elders.
Kerata said it would be difficult for the members of the two communities to live a normal life if at all the frosty relationship between Kenya and Tanzania will prevent them from visiting their kin in Tanzania and vise-versa.
Mzee John Ben Omollo the chairman of the Luo council of elders and his counterpart from the Suba-Community, Japheth Riogi, regretted that the massive blockade of trucks ferrying goods at the existing official border points was affecting growth of trade between the two nations.
They said the common man has started feeling the effects of the situation at these border points and urged the two states to come to a common agreement for the sake of their people