Beitbridge chaos blamed on Botswana Covid-19 lockdown
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Cape Town - Trucking companies diverting their vehicles from the Groblersbrug border in Botswana to Beitbridge are among the reasons for congestion at the crossing between South Africa and Zimbabwe.
Long-waiting queues at the Beitbridge Border were reported, especially around the week of Christmas, during which at least four truck drivers died of dehydration while.
Home Affairs Minister Aaron Motsoaledi has said Botswana introduced tight lockdown regulations and a strict curfew to protect its own citizens from the ravages of Covid-19, and many trucking companies found it unprofitable to cross into the region through Botswana.
He said usually at this time of the year, Groblersbrug was used as an overflow area when Beitbridge could not cope with the number of trucks.
“This year it was the other way round,” Motsoaledi said.
“Trucking companies diverted their trucks away from Groblersbrug to Beitbridge because they did not accept the waiting times imposed by the Covid-19 protocols in Botswana.
“In December 2019, 6 706 trucks went through Groblersbrug. By December 27 2020, only 2 968 trucks had gone through Groblersbrug. This means only 45% of the total number of truck 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 this year compared to 2019, and at least 2000 of these trucks found their way to Beitbridge, hence the congestion,” he said.
With the increased number of trucks, Motsoaledi said many truck drivers at Beitbridge “panicked”. “They abandoned all prior arrangements made with the authorities for a smooth flow of traffic.
The normal arrangement is that trucks park in holding areas or truck stops where they finalise a myriad documents demanded by SARS and various trade protocols.
By the time they leave the holding areas most of this administrative work will have be completed which will result in a smooth transition at the border post.
Unfortunately, these holding areas were abandoned and trucks parked on the road and even occupied lanes of incoming traffic, consequently even blocking traffic from the Zimbabwean side heading into South Africa.
Meanwhile Limpopo Health MEC Dr Phophi Ramathuba said anyone who wished to enter South Africa’s borders were required to have valid Covid-19 test results that were not older than 72 hours.
Her statement follows authorities arresting 18 people over the weekend in possession of fake negative Covid-19 test results, trying to cross the border.
Ramathuba said health officials on Friday discovered that there were people who were obtaining fake results and using them to cross the border into South Africa.