Unregulated border movement increases risk of coronavirus spread in MorangLocal administration says cross-border movement has increased after the relaxation of prohibitory orders.
Hordes of people are seen crossing the Nepal-India border in Morang through porous border points without undergoing any security check ups. The people do not follow even the most basic health security protocols, leaving health workers worried about the possible risk of coronavirus infection.
The main border point in Biratnagar, which was sealed in March last year to contain the spread of the coronavirus, is still closed.
“Security personnel deployed at the border do not stop people from crossing the border. They take bribes from local traders and let them import goods through illegal border points,” claimed Mohammad Aslam of Biratnagar-17. According to him, thousands of people cross the border through Islampur and Materuwa each day.
Many local people go to Jogbani, a market place in the border area of India, to buy essential commodities. The local people claim that the security personnel deployed for border security turn a blind eye to people crossing the border illegally.
“The security personnel at the border take money from people and let them cross the border,” said a local resident of Biratnagar preferring anonymity.
The local residents and health workers are worried about the possible spread of Covid-19 due to the unregulated flow of people through various border points in Biratnagar.
“The security personnel should regulate cross border activities at a time when the government authorities have warned of a third wave,” said Mohammand Rasul, a resident of Biratnagar-17. He urged the security personnel and concerned authorities to maintain border security to control the illegal movement of people.
According to Mukesh Khadka, a resident of Biratnagar-16, around 3,000 people cross the border through the southern gate of Biratnagar Jute Mill and Daraiya every day.
“The government should restrict unusual movement of people from the porous border points or it could lead to an outbreak of the coronavirus,” said Mahommad Rasul, a resident of Biratnagar.
According to Dr Kamal Kishor Yadav, chief at the health desk in Rani border point, health workers conduct health check-ups of all those who enter Nepal through the border point.
“Suspected individuals have to undergo antigen tests before entering into Nepal,” Yadav said.
According to the record of the health desk, 20 to 25 individuals enter Nepal from the Rani border point on a daily basis.
“None of the arrivals have tested positive for Covid-19 in the last two weeks,” said Yadav.
Meanwhile, Shiva Katuwal, assistant sub-inspector at the temporary police post in Materuwa, says that his office has tightened security at the border point. However, some people might have entered or crossed the border illegally, he added.
“We are making efforts to stop cross-border movement. However, we are unable to put a complete stop to it,” said Prakash Raut, inspector at the Area Police Office in Rani.
Superintendent of Police at the District Police Office in Morang Janadradan GC vows to regulate border movement to limit the spread of the virus.
“I have directed my subordinates accordingly,” GC said.
Chief District Officer in Morang Kosh Hari Niraula also admitted that cross-border movement has increased after the relaxation of prohibitory orders.
“Markets, transportation services and businesses among other sectors have resumed services. This has increased people’s movement in the border points as well,” Niraula said. The local administration is taking initiatives to control people’s movement in the border area, Niraula says.