Citizen Reporter
Reporter
2 minute read
25 Dec 2020
10:20 am

Health department suspends screening at Beitbridge

Citizen Reporter

Road Freight Association (RFA) chief executive officer Gavin Kelly says that at least four truck drivers have died while waiting to cross the Beitbridge border post.

A long convoy of vehicles, stretching several kilometres towards Beitbridge border post in Musina. The border connects South Africa with Zimbabwe, Malawi, Zambia, the DRC and northern Mozambique. Picture: Camilo Ramada

The health department has suspended Covid-19 screening for truck drivers at the Beitbridge border to allow a flow of traffic. Trucks and other vehicles had been stuck in queues reaching 20km and truck drivers were taking up to nine days to cross the border, with no facilities and amenities to accommodate people.

“Initially they were raising issues that there was a long time being taken in terms of the Covid screening and testing. One thing that was confusing for us was that the main backlog was on the outgoing trucks and we don’t require a test when going out of the country, so we were only doing the temperature screening and filling in the forms.

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“But even then we decided that just to ensure that there is a flow, we suspended even that part of it. But then they complained that when they come back to the country they have to do the testing. So the responsibility has been give to the trucking industry to ensure that the validity period for a test is 30 days,” department DG Sandile Buthelezi told eNCA on Friday.

Road Freight Association (RFA) chief executive officer Gavin Kelly says that at least four truck drivers have died while waiting to cross the Beitbridge border post.

“We already have confirmed reports of at least four drivers who died in their cabs. It’s absolutely unacceptable for people to be treated this way. This is a humanitarian crisis. People have to sit in their vehicles to get to the border. They don’t want to lose their spot in the queue,” said Kelly.

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According to Kelly, the delays have cost over R700 million to date.

“The freight situation at Beitbridge is desperate. This is the worst congestion in the history of Beitbridge ever. Queues stretch out from the border to Musina on the South Africa side and on the Zimbabwe side, as well as along Beitbridge Harare highway and the Bulawayo road.

“All the truck parks are full. Trucks are in every street and all over in the surrounding towns. Although congestion at Beitbridge has been a challenge for some time, the Covid-19 checks and curfews have severely exacerbated this. With proper planning, this nightmare could have been avoided,” said Kelly.

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