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Embassy, bus operators agree to end border chaos

President Ramaphosa to address the nation on Tuesday evening

The Zimbabwe Consulate in Johannesburg, South Africa and cross-border bus operators have agreed to end the chaos at Beitbridge Border Post where the latter was having an impasse with customs authorities over the standard clearance procedure.

The latest development was arrived at during a meeting held between the two parties and was attended by 75 cross-border bus operators in the neighbouring country on Wednesday afternoon.

Chaos has been reigning supreme at the port of entry with more cross-border buses continuing to arrive without clearance from the Zimbabwe Embassy in South Africa.

Last week the embassy and border stakeholders agreed to revert to the lockdown clearance procedure for buses coming into Zimbabwe with returning residents.

Under the new order, all buses carrying returning residents to Zimbabwe are subject to clearance by the embassy two days before departure.

This is done to minimise the number of buses coming in daily and only five will be allowed passage daily. However, the bus operators most of whom have been incurring losses since the beginning of the lockdown in April have been defying the new order.

In some instances, the travellers pay an equal amount or more for the transportation of travellers’ luggage in cross-border buses.

Zimbabwe’s Consul-General to Johannesburg, Mrs Melody Chaurura said they had agreed to review the number of buses to be cleared daily from five to 10.

“We have had a fruitful engagement with over 75 transporters where we were able to state the Government’s position based on the current state of affairs with regards to containing the coronavirus pandemic,” she said.

“We fully appreciated the transporters’ position regarding the issue of incurring losses at the peak of the lockdowns. Thus, we all agreed on a common position to revise the number of buses to be cleared daily from the current five to 10”.

The Consul-General said the other compliance measures will remain in force.

Mrs Chaurura said bus operators were expected to submit a passenger manifest, crew details, registration of the bus, and trailers, where applicable, for clearance.

These, she said will address issues of planning and predictability considering that the buses were arriving at the border in dozens creating an operational challenge to manage Covid-19 related border protocols.

“The current chaos at the border is not benefiting anyone, hence we need to all do our things in an orderly manner,” she said.

The diplomat said they had also agreed that all buses will depart from various centres in South Africa upon completion of the embassy clearance processes.

“The idea of clearing buses from the border will immediately fall away and we are hopeful that every stakeholder will respect the operational framework as agreed.

“In addition, we have encouraged the transporters to also come up with more proposals as we progress to ensure the repatriation of Zimbabwean nationals is seamless,” said Mrs Chaurura.

Source | chronicle

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