Just three days after closing its borders with Tanzania, Kenya is now praying for amicable solution to the apparent standoff between the two East African countries.
On Saturday, President Uhuru Kenyatta declared closure of its borders with Somalia and Tanzania because of increased cross-border infections of the coronavirus.
Swiftly, Kilimanjaro and Tanga regional authorities also took measures on the Kenyan border as a means to control infections of the deadly Coronavirus.
On different occasions, Regional Commissioners Ms Anna Mghwira of Kilimanjaro and Tanga’s Mr Martin Shigella announced restrictions and conditions that will be followed by truck drivers from Kenya on the 250 kilometers border.
At a press conference in Dar es Salaam on Tuesdday, Kenya's High Commissioner to Tanzania, Dan Kazungu, requested Kenyans and Tanzanians to be calm as the respective foreign affairs ministers are set to iron out some of the critical issues in the nearest time possible.
The Kenyan diplomat said he already spoke to Tanzania Minister for Foreign Affairs and East Africa Cooperation, Prof Palamagamba Kabudi, who promised to hold talks with his Kenyan counterpart at the end of this week.
His address comes amid growing complaints from Kenyan traders that they were counting losses and they were feeling serious pain of the shutdown despite their government’s assurance that the closure would not affect them adversely.
A number of traders were quoted by the Kenyan media, including NTV, claiming that the reality on the ground was totally different as a number of trucks carrying their imports were stranded at the border.
Traders asked President Kenyatta to visit the border posts personally and witness the difference between the directive he had issued and the reality on the ground.
Kenya and Tanzania remain key trading partners. Trade volumes between the two states slightly gained with export value closing at US$290.5 million from US$277.9 million, 2017, the Kenya Economic Survey 2019 shows.
Imports from Tanzania increased to US$173.5million from US$167.7million in 2017 despite back-to-back trade differences.
The value of Kenyan investments in Tanzania is above US$2 billion mainly in financial services and information technology sectors, with over 500 projects, making it among the top five investors in the country.
In Saturday’s coronavirus pandemic related address, President Kenyatta noted that only cargo trucks will be allowed into the country through the borders on condition that the drivers undergo mandatory tests for coronavirus.
Mr Kazungu said Tanzania was more than a neighbour to Kenya and they wish no harm, and that instead of quarreling over the decision, the people from two countries should unite in the fight against the common enemy.
"I am requesting you to be calm, let us leave our leaders to find a solution to the matter. We need balance, love and cooperation as we have one destiny as a region," he said.
He went on to say that Kenya and Tanzania remain good friends amid the global pandemic and concerted efforts against the spread of coronavirus will benefit both countries.
The High Commissioner further said that as a region, it was crucial to discuss measures to be implemented post coronavirus, especially on a recovery programme to take the East African Community (EAC) to the next level instead of quarreling on other issues.
"Now is the best time to focus on how we can come out of this pandemic a stronger region than we are now in all areas of cooperation including healthcare system," he noted.
In a separate occasion on Monday, Tanga’s Shigella banned all trucks from Kenya that are driven by Kenyan drivers to cross the Horohoro border post to Tanzania.
He took the decision following many Tanzanian drivers being restricted at the border, some having come all the way from Mbeya and Njombe regions.
On her part, Kilimanjaro RC Mghwira banned Kenyan trucks to cross over the Holili border post as a means to control spread of the deadly virus.
She said that if goods were ordered by Tanzanians, they should be offloaded at the border and packed in another truck driven by Tanzanians.
She said the Tanzania government would not tolerate seeing trade being subjected to difficult situations.