Today marks three weeks since congestion south of the Beitbridge border between South Africa and Zimbabwe intensified, supposedly because of trucks being diverted away from Botswana and its rigid Covid-19 testing procedure.
At least that’s the view of the Department of Home Affairs (DHA).
Speaking to the Daily Maverick, DHA media liaison officer Siyabulela Qoza said there were several reasons for “longer than usual” delays currently experienced at the border.
“The lockdown restrictions in Botswana are such that truck owners find it more convenient and profitable to divert their trucks away from Botswana ports of entry to Beitbridge.
“The receiving capacity of Zimbabwe authorities is not ready for this increased load, leading to delays for trucks that have been processed on the South African side.
“And cross-border truck drivers are not complying with standing arrangements that require them to enter into truck stops to finalise clearances before they proceed to the port.
“For some yet-unknown reason, truck drivers have decided to ignore this requirement. They stop their trucks on the road and clear their trucks while parked on the N1. We have had a discussion with the Limpopo traffic authorities to intervene in this matter.”
As for Qoza’s last statement, transporters must be more than just a little suspicious of Limpopo traffic authorities being asked to intervene since they are the ones who have been frequently accused of bribing drivers sitting in the queue.
Recently law enforcers had their hands full when tempers between law-abiding drivers and their peers willing to pay an ‘escorting fee’ to skip the days-long queue to the front, reached boiling point.
Qoza’s view that there are persistent capacity problems hampering border service north of the Limpopo was, however, confirmed by a clearing agent in Musina this morning.
She told the Federation of East and Southern African Transport Associations (Fesarta) that “Zim is currently struggling with space”.
This could be because of speeded-up clearing south of the border where, the same clearing agent reported, 73 trucks had been processed last night between 6pm and 8pm – a remarkable improvement considering how slow transits through the border on the South African side have been.
Zimbabwe’s inability to deal with such a sudden spurt of trucks coming through is quite possible as services and facilities north of the border have been flagged on a number of occasions for not being able to keep pace with south-side improvements.