By Leroy Dzenga
Zimbabweans stranded in Johannesburg and Pretoria due to Covid-19 can now travel home after the Zimbabwean embassy in South Africa found bus firms willing to make the journey to Beitbridge quarantine centres for those who could pay the fares.
Thousands of Zimbabweans in South Africa could not come back home when both countries closed the border to human traffic at the end of March and imposed travel restrictions within South Africa.
The Zimbabwean embassy has been collating numbers of those wishing to return home and has negotiated with Mzansi Express, Eagle Liner and Northworld DNC coaches to run a thrice a week bus service to Beitbridge with actual departure dates dependent on permission from the South African authorities, the embassy said in its last update.
“A select number of buses will offer transportation service from Johannesburg and Pretoria to quarantine centres in Beitbridge, Zimbabwe. The service will be demand-driven and offered weekly on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.
“Departure dates will depend on the necessary authorisation from the Department of International Relations and Cooperation of South Africa (DIRCO),” the embassy said.
The embassy expects the first batch of buses to leave Johannesburg on May 6.
“The buses carrying capacity will be limited to 70 percent in order to comply with the South African lockdown regulations for public transport,” the update read.
Those seeking to return home immediately will pay between R520 and R600 depending on bus company.
In an interview with The Sunday Mail, Deputy Minister of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare Lovemore Matuke said Zimbabwe was ready to receive the returnees.
“When they come we test them, provide accommodation, bedding and we also feed them. When they leave, Government pays for transport to their destinations and we give them a small out-of-pocket allowance,” Deputy Minister Matuke said. The Herald