South Africa’s primary transit into Botswana, that also serves as an all-important access point on the Trans-Kalahari Corridor, will be reopened tomorrow for trade after it was initially closed because it had no health workers to screen truck drivers for Covid-19.
This was confirmed earlier this afternoon by Louise Wiggett, managing director of customs and cargo clearing software company, Global Trade Solution.
The news about Skilpadshek Border Post is certainly welcomed by cross-border hauliers who have had to cope with intermittent closures and shorter operational hours at Skilpadshek because the Department of Health had run out of money to pay salaries for additional Port Health staff.
So dire was the need for enough people to carry out the Covid screening protocol that it was announced on Monday that the border would be closed until July 19.
In the ensuing outcry from private sector interests, and estimated loss of trade calculated to be R232 million for the initial period, mounting pressure finally forced the country’s border operators to make amends.
Yesterday industry heard with relief that the border would reopen this morning.
Unfortunately that didn’t happen.
Thankfully, consistent pressure from Wiggett, logisticians such as Mike Fitzmaurice from the Federation of East and Southern African Road Transport Associations, and transporters like Dirkie Loubser from Loubser Bulk Services, has borne fruit.
Asked whether assurance that the border would indeed reopen and that it’s not another case of lip service as was the case yesterday, Wiggett said: “No, I have spoken to all the relevant government departments and I trust and believe that the border will be open again from 6am tomorrow morning.”
More welcome news, Wiggett said, was a commitment by public sector border concerns to incorporate private sector alleviation strategies that will hopefully prevent a reoccurrence of recent events at Skilpadshek.
These include the use of resources and accepting offers of financial aid from the road freight sector.
It was also decided, she said, that a task team would be formed to safeguard Skilpadshek from the kind of disruption that has caused bedlam at the border for the past eight weeks.