Trucking industry calls for better co-operation with govt over Beitbridge impasse
Johannesburg - The trucking industry has called for better co-operation with government following long delays at the Beitbridge border post.
The Beitbridge border post between South Africa and Zimbabwe had long delays resulting in the deaths of five people – four truck drivers and a female bus passenger. There were also numerous people who collapsed as a result of lack of water and the heat.
The Road Freight Association (RFA) said this was the worst congestion they had ever seen on the border.
After days of long queues, the Department of Health decided to remove the condition that before crossing the border, truck drivers had to be tested for Covid-19.
Gavin Kelly, the chief executive of the RFA, said removing the testing conditions led to queues being reduced from 20km to less than 5km.
“We are relieved that the queues are far shorter, but the crisis is not over yet. The deaths could have been easily avoided. We know that the border is bustling every festive season, as foreign nationals working in South Africa return home for the holidays.
“To prevent this crisis from happening again, there needs to be joint co-ordination between the role-players involved at the border – including the private sector. The RFA is a critical stakeholder in this supply chain and will actively support a body that is put together to address the chaos at the border post,” Kelly said.
He stressed that truck drivers were not to blame for the delays. “The fact that the length of the queues has been reduced by 75% since Covid-19 testing for truck drivers at the border post has been lifted, is proof of this. Recent statements from the minister of health and the Parliament oversight committee of home affairs blaming truck drivers are simply not true. The total lack of planning by the Departments of Health and Home Affairs is the reason for the situation at the border”.
Kelly said the efficient running of the border was important for business on the continent.
“Beitbridge is a critical enabler of trade and business in Africa. The cost of delays at the border post is roughly R5 000 per truck per day. This amounts to R250 000 per day per kilometre of traffic queue. This is unsustainable, unnecessary and unacceptable,” he said.