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Cargo traffic jam persist at Beitbridge border

by Staff reporter
06 Oct 2020 at 20:18hrs | Views
COMMERCIAL cargo continues to pile up at Beitbridge Border Post due to regulatory Covid-19 related clearance delays on the South African side.

Transporters say the situation has not changed since last week with haulage truckers now taking between 24 and 48 hours to cross to either side of the border.

Under South Africa's new Standard Operations Procedures (SOP), with effect from) October 1, truck drivers, crew members, and frequent travellers will have to produce Covid-19 test results that are not over 72 hours old.

The results remain valid for 14 days after the first movement, but all truck drivers testing positive will be handled under new guidelines of the South African Department of Health.

The delays started when South Africa temporarily stopped accepting commercial trucks from Sadc where drivers had no such certificates resulting in commercial cargo forming long queues for more than 5km in Beitbridge town. The situation got better at the intervention of Zimbabweans border authorities. However, the trucks continue to leave the country at a slower pace with some taking two days to cross the border.

Chairperson of the Commercial Transport Operators, Mr Osbert Shumba, said the situation had been made worse by the influx of more trucks, which used to access South Africa and other Sadc countries via Botswana.

Botswana has reportedly extended its lockdown, which comes with more stringent border control measures, leaving Zimbabwe as a transit route of choice.

"We have engaged the South African Revenue Services (SARS) over the delays and they have assured us that things will improve in due course. A delay of 12 hours is too much in this sector. You will get trucks piling up like what is happening now," said Mr Shumba.

He said the delays were also worsened by the upgrading of the SARS system on Friday and pledged to keep engaging border authorities to ensure a smooth flow of commercial cargo.

SARS spokesperson, Mr Siphithi Sibeko, was not available for comment. As of yesterday, trucks were still arriving in the border town and some were being marshaled to truck parks by the police to decongest the major road leading to Bulawayo and Harare.

Since the start of the lockdown in March, the volume of commercial trucks has been increasing at Beitbridge after many countries in the region closed their borders to contain the spread of the pandemic. An average of 1 000 haulage trucks is using the same port of entry to access Zimbabwe and South Africa daily. Before the lockdown, authorities were clearing at least 450 daily.

Source - chronicle

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