By Thupeyo Muleya
South Africa will reopen its side of Beitbridge Border Post within 24 hours after completing the necessary disinfection in the wake of finding a customs officer infected with Covid-19.
South Africa temporarily closed its side of the border post to commercial cargo after a South African Revenue Services (SARS) customs officer tested positive for Covid-19.
SARS head of media and communications, Mr Siphithi Sibeko said they had closed the border post to allow health authorities to carry out fumigation to minimise the chances of more infections.
To avoid congestion, SARS notified all border agencies and cleared all vehicles already in the customs yard to make way for proper disinfection.
Mr Sibeko said when the border post reopens, SARS will give priority to the clearance of essential cargo especially perishables, medication and explosives.
“So we had to clear all the in and out bound commercial trucks, which were already in our yard to create room for disinfections in line with the standard protocols set by our Government.
“At the moment we are not allowing any new cargo into the border and we expect operations to resume within 24 hours when all safety protocols have been complied with.”
The official said SARS had since communicated their position with other inter-border agencies from South Africa and Zimbabwe.
Since the beginning of the lockdown, an average of 1 000 trucks have been using the border post daily.
Traffic through Beitbridge doubled after other countries in the region closed their borders to transit traffic to contain the spread of Covid-19.
However, Zimbabwe allows, under very strict conditions, trans-Sadc travel for trucks moving between South Africa and Zambia, Malawi, Angola, Tanzania, DRC and Mozambique.
By the end of the day yesterday, commercial trucks were queuing on the Zimbabweans commercial side, the highway leading to the border and several truck parks in the town, waiting for their turn to move through the busiest border post in the region as soon as it can be reopened safely. The Herald