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Truck drivers blamed for Beitbridge traffic jam

by Staff reporter
30 Dec 2020 at 07:22hrs | Views
ABOUT 8 800 people were cleared at the Beitbridge Border Post over the past week resulted in the untangling of a traffic jam which claimed about 15 lives amid solemn promises from

the immigration department that in January there will not be a repeat of the chaos.

Assistant regional immigration officer Nqobile Ncube, in an interview, said they had learnt valuable lessons from the experience which hogged the limelight for close to a week.

"We have taken lessons from what was transpiring. We have learnt a number of things that we will be wary of as the return traffic comes in January.

"We have no fear of facing the same challenges because the stakeholder forums both in Zimbabwe and South Africa have been communicating, holding meetings and exchanging notes," Ncube said.

He also confirmed that the situation was back to normal with very little challenges.

"We hit our highest movement on the 25th of December after South Africa had untangled the traffic jungle. We cleared almost 8 800 people which was the highest this year in December."

Ncube, however, said normally in December they achieved an average of 18 000 per day.

"The figures are depressed I think because of COVID-19 and challenges that arose with it, but we did our level best. We were able to absorb the traffic in about 36 hours," he said.

On the queue of trucks that has been causing headaches for the past two weeks, Ncube said they had reduced it significantly.

"You will recall that it was a total 25km, but I am happy to report that as of today (Tuesday) we are down to 2km and we have got an agreement with our counterparts to ensure that the truck queues that are south bound are eliminated before December 31."

He said come January 1 the reverse would prevail.

"The public and private motorists then will be travelling to South Africa and we tend to have long queues. But we are putting in place mechanisms to ensure we do not have a repeat of what happened on Christmas day. We are engaging traffic authorities, local authorities and stakeholders," he said

The chaos at the border had caused a huge public outcry and at the peak of the crisis the International Cross-Border Traders' Association blamed the Zimbabwean government for failure to completely reopen the country's borders to allow its citizens to return during the festive season.

But at the time Home Affairs minister Aaron Motsoaledi said truck drivers were to blame for the congestion at the Beitbridge Border Post.

Motsoaledi said most truck drivers did not have the documentation required to cross the border and were, therefore, blocking travellers with relevant documentation.

"If you go to Beitbridge now, our people are idling there at the border because the theatre of war is not at the border with customs or Home Affairs, it's on the road where the truckers have blocked while they don't have documents to pass through. Take them back to Musina, let the truck drivers do administration. They are in the holding areas. Then they will leave the road free. Then all the other pedestrians will not find the congestion. If the truck drivers were playing the game by the rules, we wouldn't be having this congestion that is there."

Meanwhile a member of the Executive Council Health for Limpopo Phophi Ramathuba announced on Tuesday that 28 employees of Musina Quick Spar had tested positive for COVID-19.

Most Zimbabweans are regular customers on a daily basis.

"Numbers continue to rise, stay home, visit shops and malls if you don't have a choice. Continue to wear your mask, don't buy in a store where there is no sanitiser. Every teller must sanitise you before helping you," warned Ramathuba.

Source - newsday

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