- Daily Nation
Tanzanian President John Pombe Magufuli on Sunday, May 17, took a subtle swipe at President Uhuru Kenyatta's decision to close the Namanga border.
Speaking at a church in Chato, Tanzania, the head of state appeared to mock countries that had chosen to close borders in their effort to contain Covid-19 pandemic, something he felt would unnecessary injure economic growth.
Getting specific, Magufuli painted a picture of a Tanzanian truck driver blocked at a border after traveling many kilometres 'without any contacts'.
He further explained that he acknowledged that closing borders would deny other countries' foodstuff noting that a majority of them including rice and meat was imported from the nation.Trucks at the Namanga Kenya-Tanzania border town.The Standard
"You know there are shocking occurrences. You get a truck driver that has been blocked from crossing yet he traveled many Kilometers from Dar es Salaam and did not fall in the truck. He drove it perfectly.
"That is why, my brothers, I did not close down borders. I respected my neighbours since we are surrounded by more than eight countries. If you close, it means you are sabotaging their economies," argued Magufuli.
"There are some of the countries that are depending on foodstuff from Tanzania. So if you lock them out, you have not only sabotaged the economy of the creators of the product but you have also denied food to those countries surrounding you," he added.
He also pointed out that his decision to keep borders open had worked in strengthening the relationship with Uganda noting that he had received sugar from President Yoweri Museveni's Uganda.
"Recently, I was speaking to the Ugandan President because we had a deficiency in sugar supply averaging around 40,000 tonnes.
"I talked to Museveni and he assured he would sell us 26,000 tonnes," he explained.
Museveni had, however, closed Uganda's borders in late March in an attempt to contain the spread of the virus only allowing cargo planes and humanitarian aid.
“We have decided to prohibit all passenger planes coming from outside Uganda from landing at any of the airports of Uganda. Only cargo planes will be allowed to fly in and out of Uganda,” stated Museveni at the time.
After a series of imported cases from Kenya's neighbours, Uhuru announced the closure of the border between Kenya and Tanzania and Somalia to mitigate the spread of the Covid-19 -pandemic on Saturday, May, 16.
In his address, the president noted that the stringent measures were occasioned by the surging number of imported Covid-19 cases, key among the being truck drivers.
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