Traffic officials in the North West are working around the clock to ease congestion at the Ramatlabama border post between Botswana and South Africa. The Botswana government says it will re-open its borders on Tuesday.
It’s expected there might be serious congestion as COVID-19 screening protocols are still in place.
A five-kilometre queue of long-haul trucks was observed at the Ramatlabama border post outside Mafikeng. Drivers say they are taking goods to countries such as Zambia and the Democratic Republic of Congo and the long wait at border posts adds to the frustration.
“I arrived here at the border at 5 am yesterday (Sunday), going to Botswana and I am still stuck here. Since in the morning I have not eaten. I have only been drinking water. There is no food here,” says a driver.
“I am from Joburg and going to Gaborone. I have been here yesterday 17:00 hours and I was in Mahikeng their queue started in Mahikeng, it’s too much,” another driver says.
Traffic control management in the province says they are working hard to ensure a smooth traffic flow. Chief director for Community Safety and Transport, Molefi Morule explains:
“We were alerted to an influx of trucks in the border and our law enforcement had to come here for purposes of traffic control and ensuring the safety of our commuters.”
Many of the delays have been caused by COVID-19 screening protocols that need to be followed. The North West Department of Health however assured travellers that they will be ready to deal with the influx of travellers.
Departmental spokesperson, Tebogo Lekgethwane explains:
“The department has decided to go to the border. Our officials are there to make an assessment and if there is a need to bring additional stuff we will do so.”
Border congestions are usual at this time of the year. This as many head home for the festive season. But this year the problem has been exacerbated by the global pandemic.