Minister of Health Jappie Mhango has asked traditional leaders in Karonga to take a leading role in ending the use of uncharted routes because the tendency was threatening the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic.
He made the remarks on Saturday at Iponga Primary School in the district during a meeting with traditional leaders and other stakeholders aimed at finding solutions to curb the use of uncharted routes along Songwe Border.
Mhango said he was worried to see several people using uncharted routes despite government discouraging the tendency.
He said: “If we are not careful, the number of cases in the country will keep on rising. It is better to close these uncharted routes now before the pandemic gets out of hand.
“We know that many people from Karonga are related to people of Tanzania, but we need to take precautionary measures to avoid contracting Covid-19.”
In his remarks, Paramount Chief Kyungu said government should provide necessary support to police and immigration officers to intensify patrols along the border.
He said: “The problem is that police and immigration officers do not have sufficient resources to patrol uncharted routes.
“I believe if government gives them motorcycles, the situation will be different.”
However, a community policing member, Seti Mwanyekula, alleged that some police officers receive bribes from people who use uncharted routes.
“We have been working tirelessly to curb the use of uncharted routes, but sometimes police officers get bribes; hence, people continue to use uncharted routes,” he said.
In an interview, Karonga Police Station officer-in-charge Sam Nkhwazi promised to talk to his team so that they work professionally.
People in Karonga use about 15 uncharted routes to and from Tanzania.