By Thupeyo Muleya
The movement of travellers through Beitbridge Border Post has relatively improved after South Africa began addressing the causes of delays which saw people spending at least 48 hours waiting to be cleared to cross the border.
The long delays at the border have since claimed the lives of five Zimbabweans who died in the last five days while waiting to be cleared out of South Africa.
Police in the neighbouring country said the causes of deaths were yet to be ascertained, although one of the victims had been confirmed to have had complications with his heart.
Limpopo police spokesperson, Brigadier Motlafela Mopjapelo confirmed the deaths last night.
“We have recorded a total of five deaths at the border. These include three women and two men.
“The two women died on Wednesday, another woman died today at the Home Affairs departure bay. The truck driver whom his family say had a heart problem died on Thursday, while another man died on the same day at Shell filling station,” said Brig Mojapelo.
Limpopo’s Department of Transport spokesperson, Mr Matome Moremi, said a team led by the Director of Traffic and Community Safety, Mr Allen Matsila was hard at work on the ground decongesting the N1 highway to push the clearance of northbound traffic.
“What we are doing is the separation of traffic into heavy and light vehicles.
These light vehicles are being directed to a holding place at the Musina Showgrounds as soon as they arrive in Musina. From there they are being cleared into the border post in batches,” he said.
Mr Moremi said the decongestion plan has started paying dividends since they had managed to clear the gridlock on the 12km stretch leading to the border post.
He said commercial trucks were being processed separately considering they will be transporting essential cargo.
The official said the long queues were a result of a curfew that was being implemented after 10 PM in that country in line with Covid-19 containment protocols.
Zimbabwe’s Ambassador to South Africa, Mr David Hamadziripi said Harare and Pretoria were in contact with a view to finding a sustainable solution to the delays being experienced by travellers at Beitbridge Border Post.
“It is our expectation that the results of these efforts will be discernible very soon,” said the Ambassador.
The Assistant Regional Immigration Officer-in-charge of Beitbridge, Mr Nqobile Ncube said the traffic flow had greatly improved and that they were in constant touch with their counterparts to address bottlenecks as and when they arose. The Chronicle