Home Affairs Director of Ports of Entry Stephen Van Neel has requested that truck drivers preparing to travel towards the Beitbridge Border post consider using other ports of entry during the festive season.
This as hundreds of truck drivers remain stuck in queues, stretching as long as ten kilometres.
Over ten people are confirmed to have died at the border in Musina, Limpopo in the period starting December the 14th. Van Neel says border officials are working towards clearing the backlog of trucks that have been stuck for several days.
“We have to see whether we can push transport to other ports. If we could be able to speak to the transport sector and truckers we would like to ask them to maybe use other ports of entry and offload some of the pressure on Beitbridge.”
People still had hope of reaching home on Christmas Day
On Christmas Day, SABC News reporter Pimani Baloyi and Cameraman Hulisani Livhebe were taken on an exclusive tour of the port of entry.
Traffic congestion at Beitbridge:
They found only one traveller being processed inside the immigration office, with over 10 officials ready to process more. A further walk into the facility revealed sedans as well as bakkies, taxis and buses queuing to exit South Africa after being cleared. Officials say there seems to be a challenge with Zimbabwe’s capacity to accept large quantities of travellers.
Neel said: “A second dependency is also that what is it that Zimbabwe can receive and as we can see here now that there are a lot of busses are already cleared, passengers are already cleared and they waiting for transiting into Zimbabwe so we have a problem there as well.”
Some commuters and light vehicle motorists were hopeful that they will spend the remainder of Christmas with their families after they were cleared speedily.
“It wasn’t really that bad just starting from today and also the papers, we were cleared very fast but the only problem that is hindering us right now is the trucks over there,” said one.
“For me, I don’t want to lie because I just arrived, I think it is only two hours now and I’m going to the Zim side. I think for now I have done everything my bus is already cleared and they have stamped the passports. I am now going to Zim side now,” added another traveller.
Outside the border post though, truck drivers remain frustrated as they remain stuck in snaking queues.
“It’s four days now still on the road and where I am now and the border is about 5 kilometres. So I think I will take another four days to reach the border, I don’t know what to do and I have got groceries and presents for my kids and I don’t know what to do worth the groceries and it’s hot here,” one told the SABC News crew.
“I was hoping to spend Christmas with my family but we are now waiting here, it;s four days now,” added another.