The coronavirus (COVID-19) fight is getting into a different dynamic as Tanzania anticipates unlocking its tourism potential, some of the East African member states decided to close their borders to curb the highly contagious virus.
Zambia closes its border with Tanzania
The transit landscape between Tanzania and Zambia just got stuck, as Tunduma-Nakonde border got closed to curb the coronavirus pandemic.
The shutdown came to life on Monday, May 11, after border district confirmed 76 new cases on Saturday, which was the steepest increase to date. Hence, Zambia has around 267 confirmed cases and 7 people have died from the virus.
Zambian Health Minister Chitalu Chilufya said the closing the border allows for cleaning, disinfection and virus testing to be conducted in Nakonde. But also retraining immigration staff at the border on how to deal with the entry of persons and goods, according to information from The Citizen.
However, according to information from The Citizen, almost 70 per cent of goods in transit which is imported through Dar es Salaam port is moved across the Tunduma- Nakonde border, whereby the value of goods moved through the channel including cargo destined for DRC and Zimbabwe stand at $1.5 billion.
As the decision to shut down the border could cause adverse economic impacts to the transit business, still the health precautions argued to outweigh the bigger risks of spreading the virus, as Zambia and Tanzania both find an amicable way to ensure drivers get tested before going through.
Kenya and Tanzania border issues
East Africa’s biggest traders, Kenya and Tanzania have witnessed high precautions actions regarding coronavirus, as two Tanzanians were denied entry into Kenya via the Isiabina border, according to information from The Citizen.
As the two nations battle the deadly virus, Kenya and Uganda have remained alert regarding people moving through their borders, including Tanzanians, whereby—now truck drivers entering the country are subjected to mandatory testing.
Yet, the decision has not washed well with drivers, whose trucks are queuing for entry, as the two nations exhibit competitive cargo exchange.
Kenya has confirmed over 700 cases and 36 people succumb to the virus.
The government of Tanzania is looking to the reopening of its tourism sector with a plan hinged on its shoulders.
As the country suffers great foreign currency loss, for the industry which gained over $2.5 billion last year per Ministry of Tourism information., the government is rather optimistic about winning back its glory.
Tanzania tourist numbers rose to 1.5 last year from 1.3 two years ago, and projected to reach 2 million in 2020, thus—the pandemic could cut it down to 437,000 according to the ministry.
According to information from The Citizen, the government of Tanzania will align its plan to resuscitate the sector, projected to lose over 477,000 jobs if the virus prolongs. The has been prepared by the University of Dar es Salaam.
“The impact of the novel coronavirus is monumental but we can still win back the market,” affirmed Prof Adolf Mkenda, the permanent secretary in the Natural Resources and Tourism ministry.
Although the government did not provide contents of the plan, it is optimistic that with the help from the private sector, the industry could be revived.
In the same context, the industry has aligned Standard Operation Procedures to follow. According to the tourism minister Hamis Kigwangalla statement on Tweeter, tourism stakeholders—agreed to reopen the tourism industry in tandem to the precaution procedures aligned such as a special reception protocol, transit and accommodation measures
“To execute business in the tourism sector, during these times many things must change. Coronavirus has changed the world, and we must agree to change. The business won’t be easy, we must strive. We will strive,” read minister tweet.
Also, tourism accounts for 17.6 per cent of Gross Domestic Product in Tanzania.