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'Truckers fuel border jumping'

by Staff reporter
03 Jun 2020 at 09:51hrs | Views
THE Matabeleland South provincial task force on Covid-19 has called for strict supervision of cross-border truck drivers transporting goods following reports that some of them were assisting some people to  illegally cross into the country.

During a meeting on Sunday that was held in Gwanda, stakeholders from the province said there was need for thorough searches of trucks at the border and at roadblocks as illegal activities pose a health threat following the outbreak of Covid-19.

Truck drivers who transport goods into the country stand accused of offering transport to border jumpers whom they drop off just before reaching the South African border to cross on foot through unauthorised points and then later pick them up after crossing the Zimbabwean border. Speaking during the meeting, Beitbridge Senator, Tambudzani Mohadi, said there was need for movement of truck drivers to be monitored.

"We have a major problem with truck drivers who bring goods into the country. There is a need for restrictions and for their movements to be controlled. During this time when we are faced with the Covid-19 pandemic we have to be cautious. Some of these truck drivers give lifts to border jumpers. They also make stops anywhere and they attract vendors that sell goods along the highway which isn't safe," she said.
 
"They need to be thoroughly checked at roadblocks and at the border to ensure they don't smuggle people."

Speaking during the meeting the Officer Commanding Matabeleland South Province Assistant Commissioner Adolf Moyo said the major challenge was that the truck drivers were offering people lifts and dropping them off before reaching the South African border and later collecting them after crossing the Zimbabwean border. He said trucks had been given the green light to ferry goods and some of them were not being searched.

Also speaking during the same meeting, the Minister of Environment, Climate, Tourism, and Hospitality Industry Nqobizitha Mangaliso Ndlovu who is part of the Ad-Hoc Inter-Ministerial Taskforce on the Covid-19 outbreak said there is need for law enforcement agents to curtail these illegal activities. He said border jumpers were a major threat to the country as they were not going through necessary testing and mandatory quarantine.

"In terms of truck drivers there are designated stopping points which the Ministry of Transport came up with on each of the major roads. At these stopping points that were published it was made clear that drivers shouldn't entertain any locals.

"Truck drivers are also offering lifts to border jumpers and an example is a group of Malawians who were intercepted in a bush after they had been dropped off by a truck. There is need for law enforcement agents to be thorough on this," he said.

"Border jumping and smuggling is a serious problem and there is a need for surveillance to be increased. This is our biggest threat as these people are not going through the medical facilities for screening and testing."

Matabeleland South Provincial Medical Director, Dr Rudo Chikodzore said about 800 trucks pass through the Beitbridge Border Post daily. She said all the drivers were being screened for Covid-19 upon reaching the border.

Dr Chikodzore said the cost was however taxing on the Government considering the limited number of tests kits. She said they had made a recommendation for companies to meet the cost of testing drivers.

Source - chronicle

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