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SA unrest further dampens transporters operations

by Staff reporter
16 Jul 2021 at 08:04hrs | Views
CROSS-border transporters in Zimbabwe say the sector, which has been subdued due to the Covid-19 pandemic, has been dealt another blow as a result of violence and looting in South Africa that is affecting their operations.

South Africa has been experiencing rampant looting of stores and shopping malls over the past four days, especially in KwaZulu Natal and Gauteng Provinces. This violence has seen cars and trucks being vandalised by protesters. When borders closed last year, cross-border traders - omalayitsha, found it hard to be in business.

The cross-border transporters bring in food and other essential goods for Zimbabweans in various parts of the country every day. Cross-border transporters such as Mr Xolani Bhebhe, who runs Mantsheza Private Limited, said they had not recovered from the Covid-19-induced closure of borders and were now surviving on transporting goods.

"The ongoing unrest in SA has a negative impact on the transportation industry. As a cross-border transporter, it's a slap in the face. It took us a while to get back to business after the borders were closed for travellers going in and out of South Africa due to the Covid-19 pandemic. For now, we have been surviving on transporting goods only," said Mr Bhebhe.

He said one of his cars was stoned on its way to Zimbabwe by protesters.

"Most of our clients are manufacturers and retailers and I just got news that almost 80 percent of the companies we collect our orders from are closed and that one of our bakkies was stoned on its way to Zimbabwe," said Mr Bhebhe.

"For now, we will stop operations and spend time with our families while we hope for all this to end. My major worry is how we will manage to pay our rentals and vehicle instalments if the unrest doesn't end soon," said Mr Bhebhe.

Mr Bhekimpilo Ncube of Mabuza Logistics said they were on the brink of going out of business because of the Covid-19 pandemic, but now they will not be able to transport goods because of the riots.

"These riots have affected us a lot, because people who are buying items and bringing them here are no longer able to do so and we can no longer transport these goods and soon we shall be out of business. Where will these things come from, after these shops where people buy them have been looted," said Mr Ncube. He said he was afraid that he would not be able to pay instalments for his business because of the lack of goods to transport.

Another cross-border transporter, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said things will get tougher for them and Zimbabweans.

"The only vehicles allowed in and out of the border are trucks. Some of us have made a great loss because of the lockdown and now the goods are destroyed where we get them," said the cross-border transporter.

Cross-Border Traders' Association of Zimbabwe (CBTAZ) president Mr Killer Zivhu said because of the riots, the future is uncertain for them.

"We are actually out of business. Even if the borders could be opened tomorrow morning, everyone is confused, what are we going to do next. Because where we would get our stuff, Durban and Johannesburg, there riots and things have been looted. There is totally nothing there. We plead that common ground is found in South Africa. We are still getting information on how many people lost their goods to Zimbabwe," said Mr Zivhu.

He said most of the cross-border traders were relying on China Malls and the harbour in Durban, but now they do not know how and when they will get their goods.

"Most cross-borders from Zimbabwe depend on South Africa for their wares. And now that the borders have been closed, they are using transporters to bring their goods here to sell. Now with this strike, it has disturbed the movement of goods. A lot of China Malls in South Africa have been destroyed and looted according to our sources that stay in Durban and Johannesburg. Some of them might take a year or so to be renovated. Now this is a dilemma.

"There are others who bring things from China, Bangkok and other Asian countries from using the Durban Harbour and access to that road has been closed. Trucks can't access these and there is no way in which they can get their goods to Zimbabwe," said Mr Zivhu.

He appealed to the South African government to find a lasting solution to the unrest.

117 people have been killed in violence that followed the imprisonment of former South African President Jacob Zuma on contempt of court charges. His imprisonment triggered protests in his home province of KwaZulu Natal which then spread to other areas. The South African government has since deployed the military to help police restore order.

Source - chronicle