By Thupeyo Muleya
The volume of commercial trucks using Beitbridge Border Post has started to increase, with transporters now avoiding the Botswana transit route due to very strict Covid-19 screening measures.
It is understood that Botswana is retesting everyone passing through its borders, even if the travellers have Covid-19 clearance certificates. As a result, the 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 trucks went through Groblersbrug compared to 2 968 trucks during the same period last year.
“This means only 45 percent of the total number of trucks processed last year went through Groblersbrug,” he said.
“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.”
Border officials yesterday said trucks were spending more time than usual at the border due to the increase in traffic.
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 current 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, but moving queues of commercial trucks have become a common sight especially along the N1 highway in South Africa and the Beitbridge to Bulawayo highway.
According to one truck driver, Mr Tsarukanai Dambajena, the influx of more trucks has resulted in them spending more time to leave or enter either country.
“More commercial trucks are now using the Zimbabwe route hence the reason we are having long queues,” he said. 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.”
Another driver identified only as Mr Sibanda said on the South African side trucks were being directed to truck parks and being directed 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, so the authorities are directing us to truck parks which are safe,” said Mr Sibanda.
Another Zimbabwean border official said compliance checks were being synchronised to reduce the time the commercial trucks spend at the border. The Herald