Thupeyo Muleya, Beitbridge Bureau
THE volume of commercial trucks using Beitbridge Border Post is increasing as transporters are avoiding the Botswana transit route due to strict Covid-19 screening.
The Botswana government is reportedly retesting everyone passing through the country even if the travellers have Covid-19 clearance certificates from their point of departure.
As a result, truckers who used to cross from Zambia, Malawi, Angola, and DRC to South Africa through Groblersbrug Border are now using Beitbridge. During a recent media briefing, South Africa’s Home Affairs Minister Dr Aaron Motsoaledi said in December 2019, 6 706 rucks went through Groblersbrug compared to 2 968 trucks last year during the same period.
“This means only 45% of the total number of trucks processed last year went through Groblersbrug. In contrast, 19 800 trucks went through Beitbridge in December 2019, compared to 21 800 by December 27, 2020.
A simple analysis will show that Groblersbrug had 3 738 fewer trucks last year compared to 2019, and at least 2000 of these trucks found their way to Beitbridge, hence the congestion,” said the Minister.
According to border officials yesterday, the state of affairs has resulted in truckers spending more time than usual at the border.
Through the inter-border agencies, Zimbabwe and South Africa have been giving priority clearance to critical cargo to decongest the borders.
“We are having an influx of trucks which used to cross via Botswana. As a result, there is more pressure at Beitbridge Border Post. So, we are doing our best to move cargo as quickly as possible,” said a Zimbabwean border official.
Under the Covid-19 regulations in Zimbabwe and South Africa, commercial truck drivers should have clearance certificates valid for 30 days, while those using light commercial vehicles (rigid trucks) must retest after every 14 days.
Long queues of commercial trucks are becoming common especially along the N1 highway, South Africa and the Beitbridge to Bulawayo highway.
According to one truck driver, Mr Tsarukanai Dambajena, the influx of more trucks has resulted in drivers taking longer to leave or enter either country.
“More commercial trucks are now using the Zimbabwe route hence the reason we are having long queues.
“In addition, you will note that there is limited parking space on both sides of the border, so we are now being moved in batches,” said Mr Dambajena.
Another driver identified only as Mr Sibanda said on the South African side trucks were being directed to truck parks and being channelled to the border in small numbers.
“The idea is to decongest the N1 highway and also enhance the safety of the drivers. In some instances, the drivers are becoming a target of thieves in the queue, so the authorities are directing us to truck parks which are safe,” said Mr Sibanda.
Another Zimbabwean border official said compliance checks were being synchronized to reduce the time the commercial trucks spend at the border post. @tupeyo