Thupeyo Muleya, Beitbridge Bureau
The International Organization for Migration (IOM) is working with the Government to minimise the effects of the Covid-19 on selected migrant groups whose general upkeep has been adversely affected by the pandemic.
IOM project assistant for Zimbabwe, Mr Charles Mutize told delegates during training of trainers and a handover of an assortment of equipment to the Beitbridge covid19 taskforce that a lot of people mostly informal cross-border traders had been hit hard.
He said a series of visits, training sessions, and goods distribution activities were being done in collaboration with the Ministry of Industry and Commerce at key border posts that are part of the Supporting Informal Cross-border Traders in Southern Africa.
“The idea is to help this group of people to do business safely during the covid19 pandemic. Informal Cross Border Trade accounts for up to 40% of total intra-SADC trade and has been adversely affected by travel restrictions throughout the region,” he said.
Understood that under the current set up most informal cross-border traders have not been able to do their business normally.
Mr Mutize said they were having training of trainers drawn from various cross-border traders associations and border agencies on hygiene and the best way to operate under the current state of affairs.
In Beitbridge, IOM, donated an assortment of latex gloves, handwashing dispensers, infrared thermometers, hand sanitizers, three-ply face masks, face shields, and plastic wheeled bins to capacitate both the local authority and informal cross border traders to conduct their businesses in a safe environment.
Beitbridge town clerk, Mr Loud Ramakgapola said the equipment from IOM was a boost to their quest to improve service delivery and boost revenue inflows.
“We appreciate this gesture from IOM considering that most of our economic activities are linked to cross border trade. We are the hot spot for migration and trade and without proper facilities, we risk having the disease spreading rapidly,” said Mr Ramakgapola.
“Before Covi19 we could collect revenue from over 900 informal cross border traders in the town, who provide very critical products to both the local and transit population”.
He said the pandemic had adversely affected the councils’ revenue base considering that many people in the informal sector were now out of business.
Mr Ramakgapola said they were now collecting operation fees from fewer than 500 traders.
At Dulivhadzimu, he said, the number of buses accessing the long-distance bus terminus had decreased from 30 busses daily to around 10 buses due to limited cross border travel.
Chairperson of the Beitbridge cross border taxi operators, Mr Takavingei Mahachi, said most of their members have been counting losses since they have not been able to do business for over 12 months.
“Most vehicles are parked because they have cross border permits but cannot do business due to a number of travel restrictions and we cannot also operate locally due to the nature of our permits,” he said.
Mr Eric Chikukwa who coordinates the Zimbabwe Cross border Traders Association said the government must urgently look into the plight of thousands of cross-border trad