Chitipa, July 26, Mana: The Immigration Office at Mbilima Border Post in Chitipa has expressed concern over the porousness of the border, saying the situation makes it difficult for officers to effect precaution measures against COVID-19.
Speaking Sunday during a visit by the Presidential Taskforce on COVID-19, Mbilima Border Post Immigration Station Officer, Sub-Inspector Andrew Mbewe, said despite officers providing COVID-19 screening and testing services to people that cross the border, some travelers enter and exit Malawi without being checked.
“Here at Mbilima Border Post, we have Songwe River which marks the Malawian border with Tanzania and Zambia. Most people opt to use unchartered routes across the river other than through the border post.
“This tendency affects our operations to effect preventive measures against COVID-19. We, therefore, appeal to authorities to assist us,” said Mbewe.
He explained that there are 17 monkey bridges across the Songwe River and that most travelers, especially cross-border traders, use the bridges.
According to the Director of Health and Social Services for Chitipa District Council, Dr. Wilson Ching’ani, on average, only 60 cross-border traders travel to Malawi through Mbilima Border Post per day.
Ching’ani further said amongst the challenges the district faces in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic, the district does not have a permanent COVID-19 isolation centre and that currently, the hospital uses a Tuberculosis (TB) room as a quarantine centre.
In his remarks, the taskforce team leader for the tour, Timothy Mtambo, assured Chitipa District Council that government would fully support it in addressing the challenges.
Mtambo, who is Minister of Civic Education and National Unity, also said government would strengthen security at the border among other interventions.
“As government, we understand the challenge of the border being porous, and let me assure the council that we will do everything so that we fight against the pandemic,” said Mtambo.