Kenya’s Ambassador to Tanzania Dan Kazungu defends border closure

Kenya's Ambassador to Tanzania Dan Kazungu defends border closure
Kenya's Ambassador to Tanzania Dan Kazungu in a press briefing on May 19, 2020. PHOTO| COURTESY

Kenya’s Ambassador to Tanzania Dan Kazungu is now calling for calm amid a brewing diplomatic row over the separate measures taken by President Uhuru Kenyatta and President John Magufuli in handling of the coronavirus pandemic.

Addressing journalists in Tanzania, Kazungu said the current pandemic should not provide ground to strain relations between Nairobi and Dodoma, noting that this should be a time for the region to join hands in combating the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Our common enemy is the coronavirus. Tanzania’s  enemy should not be Kenya and neither should Kenyans view Tanzanians as their enemies. Let us focus as the main issues; which at the moment is fighting this crisis, bend the curve so that our countries emerge stronger,” said Kazungu.

He defended President Uhuru Kenyatta’s decision to ban movement of persons and passengers in and out of Kenya through the Tanzanian border to combat the spread of the coronavirus.

“This decision taken by Kenya in regards to closure of the border has been made not to punish Tanzanians but to fight this common enemy that we are all facing which is the virus,” he said.

“If we lose our people, we become a weak nation.”

Kazungu emphasized that unlike Tanzania, Kenya did not ban movement of trucks ferrying goods from crossing the Tanzanian border.

“We first need to be understand that President Kenyatta’s directive was very clear that any truck driver from the Tanzanian side who tests negative for the virus is free to cross into Kenya and go to any location be it Nairobi, Mombasa or even in Malindi. In fact we love shirts from Tanzania in Malindi,” said Kazungu.

He further stated that officials from Kenya and Tanzania would hold talks to resolve the looming standoff.

In retaliation to Kenya’s ban of movement of persons through the border with the Tanzania, the neighbouring country announced a ban on all Kenyan truckers crossing from Kenya.

An angered Tanga regional commissioner Martin Shigella, claimed Tanzanian truckers are being mistreated along the border by Kenyan officials — a claim that has been dismissed by Kenyan authorities.

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Story By Benjamin Muriuki
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