Beitbridge to open to long queues and weary truck drivers

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Truck drivers say they are anticipating long queues of vehicles and people crossing at the Beitbridge Border post in Musina, Limpopo if manpower is not added to assist with re-entry into South Africa when the port of entry opens.

Ports of entry were closed in January as part of the ongoing national lockdown, in an attempt to curb the spread of the coronavirus.

Trucks crossing into Zimbabwe from South Africa have formed long queues since last week at Beitbridge, with some truck drivers worried that authorities will struggle to deal with long queues of trucks.

Trucks are currently being prevented from travelling via the N1 to Louis Trichardt in Limpopo to Beitbridge by traffic officials since the Border post in Musina is already congested.

Traffic officials have established more than five holding spots for trucks between Louis Trichardt and the Beitbridge Border post.

Truck drivers have also complained about the lack of access to water, food and ablution facilities.

The video below is of travellers try to beat lockdown in January:

The Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs says all land borders will close at 9pm daily – in line with lockdown restrictions.

This as several ports of entry into Botswana, Lesotho, Eswathini, Namibia, Mozambique and Zimbabwe are preparing to re-open on Monday.

Home Affairs Minister Dr Aaron Motsoaledi is scheduled to be at Lebombo Border Post on Monday, while Deputy Minister Njabulo Nzuza will visit Beitbridge and Director-General Tommy Makhode will check the situation at Maseru Bridge and Ficksburg.

The borders were closed on January 11 as part of the country’s efforts to control the spread of COVID-19 following the moving of the country from lockdown level 1 to adjusted level 3 lockdown amid a surge in COVID-19 cases in late December.

The National COGTA spokesperson Lungi Mtshali says some border will open 24 hours.

“With the extension, there are further amendments and one of them is the borders – the 20 land borders – that were providing limited or restricted services are now fully operational. As of tomorrow, they will be fully operational. Some of the borders were open 24 hours and some were open until midnight – but due to the curfew and restrictions those borders will now close at 9 o’clock.”

This comes after Cabinet approved the extension of the national state of disaster until the 15th of March as South Africa battles the second wave of the coronavirus pandemic with vaccines yet to be rolled out this month.

The national state of disaster was first implemented in March 2020 by President Cyril Ramaphosa to curb the spread of COVID-19.

Mtshali says the extension will be effective from Monday. “The national state of disaster has been further extended by a month to 15 March which means that the lockdown restrictions are still applicable on adjusted level 3. The extension will be effective from tomorrow but it was gazetted on the 13th.”