BULAWAYO – South Africa is planning to re-open its land borders closed for a month on February 15, the same day that Zimbabwe is expected to ease its Covid-19 lockdown which was extended by a fortnight last week.
The Border Management Agency (BMA) told the Home Affairs Portfolio Committee of the South African parliament on Tuesday that it had put plans in place to ease congestion witnessed in December and early January, particularly at its borders with Mozambique and Zimbabwe.
The measures will include limiting the number of haulage trucks in the exit queue at any given time, deploying additional healthcare workers, and a ticket system for rapid Covid-19 tests.
We’re going to keep the queue (for trucks) on the N1 at 700 meters,” BMA commissioner Gene Ravele told MPs.
“If the queue becomes more than 700 meters, we will divert trucks to truck stops.” He said the BMA had engaged trucking associations to ensure compliance.
Additional holding areas provided by the Musina Local Municipality in December will be used to accommodate any overflow from the truck stop nearest to the Beitbridge border post.
These additional holding sites will be equipped with ablution facilities and running water, he said. Covid-19 protocols require all persons entering South Africa from abroad – whether via land or air – to present a negative Covid-19 test conducted within a window of 72 hours.
However, the cost of these tests in neighbouring countries – which cost about R800 in Lesotho and US$60 in Zimbabwe – led to travelers opting for on-site testing at South Africa’s border posts.
Testing stations managed by South Africa’s National Health Laboratory Services at busy land-entry points offer testing for just R170.