Health officials accused of bribery in yellow fever checks at border

Public health officials at the Busia and Malaba border points  have been accused of seeking bribes to allow travellers without yellow fever certificates to enter or exit the country.

The officers had resorted to using brokers to identify those willing to pay some money for them to be cleared for travel.

Hundreds of passengers were stranded at the border posts for lack of the certificates. Some of them were forced to return to Nairobi to pick the documents following a directive by the Health ministry on Monday that all travellers must possess the certificates.

Investigations by the Business Daily Thursday established the brokers were smuggling passengers to Uganda through panya (illegal) routes after receiving cash.

“Bus drivers are being asked by health officers to part with Sh5,000 so as to proceed with their journey,” said Isaac Wanzala, a passenger.

By morning, some of travellers, who had spent the previous night at the border, had not been cleared due to a lack of vaccine at Busia County health facilities.

However, the County Director of Public Health, Ambrose Fwamba, warned brokers against smuggling travellers saying if found they will be arrested.

Dr Fwamba said the yellow fever vaccine was not available and arrangements had been made to collect it from Nairobi.

“We will arrest those individuals who will be found soliciting bribes and smuggling travellers. Let us follow the regulations as stipulated by the Ministry of Health for our own safety,” he said.

Dr Fwamba also noted that the disease was very infectious and international travellers should be vaccinated.

And those being vaccinated will only be allowed to travel after ten days.

Business people who were heading to different foreign countries have incurred big loses because they could not make it to their final destinations.

Ms Catherine Njoroge was travelling from Nairobi to Kampala blamed the Ministry of Health for imposing the directive on yellow fever certificate the last minute.

It also emerged that some officers were issuing out certificate to travellers without undertaking vaccination.

“Some passengers being cleared using the 2014 yellow fever certificate,” said one of the passenger who sought anonymity.