Malawi: Chief's Laxity On Illegal Boat Commuters Amid COVID-19

Likoma — Business community in Likoma has blamed Chiefs' laxity to control illegal boat commuters ferrying Mozambicans and Tanzanians at night.

Despite closure of borders saying the malpractice has huge impacts amid the rising number of Covid-19 cases in the neighbouring countries.

One business lady, Lisungu Sonjo said the Chiefs in the district have relaxed evidenced by several reports about some village headmen who are in the forefront aiding and habouring the Mozambicans and Tanzanians coming by boats at night, saying this puts the islanders at risk of Covid-19.

"We have on several occasions reported these issues to chiefs and immigration, but we have seen no action being taken. Still we see boats operating illegally at night bringing in Mozambicans as well as Tanzanians.

"It is not pleasing to see some boats operating daily, while our boats are grounded to comply with the Covid-19 measures set by the district council. I wish the District Commissioner and security officials should help us on this," she said.

Sub-Traditional Authority (STA) Mwase said as Chiefs they are aware of the illegal boat commuters who are ferrying Mozambicans at night.

"We are aware of the malpractice and that some Chiefs are in the forefront facilitating the movement and further habouring such people. As chiefs, we have however, taken measures to end the malpractice. We summoned the chiefs and warned them about the issue so we expect change," he said.

District Commissioner (DC) for Likoma, Eric Nema said the district was challenged in terms of controlling the border being a lake.

"Our border is too porous being the lake. There was need for collaborative efforts with both the community and security personnel to ensure we ably control the illegal entry of immigrants amid Covid-19 pandemic," he said.

Nema said very soon there would be an establishment of Public Health Emergency Management Committee to deal with issues of Covid-19, and shall create structures at village level.

Commenting on the illegal entry of immigrants, Immigration Officer for Likoma, Numeri Nation blamed local communities saying those boats ferrying Mozambicans are owned by people from Likoma.

"The challenge we have is that Likoma is too open. Those boats ferrying Mozambicans dock anywhere and it is difficult to trace them. The other challenge is that it is actually local citizens aiding the Mozambicans and that chiefs are aware," he pointed out.

More From: Malawi News Agency

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