Beitbridge border traffic declines as national lockdown heighten. The country moved into national lockdown level 4 on January 5, under which intercity travel and the general travel across borders is suspended, while essential shops open between 8am and 3pm.
The volume of human traffic and light vehicles passing through Beitbridge Border Post has relatively declined, with authorities fully implementing the national lockdown regulations, which among other things restrict non-essential general travel.
There is a curfew which runs between 6 pm and 6 am. The lockdown that was supposed to lapse this week has been extended by a further two weeks as the country battles to contain the spread of Covid-19.
As it stands, only Zimbabweans resident in foreign countries and those foreigners with valid work or study permits and diplomats on government business are allowed entry.
In terms of departures, Zimbabweans who are legally resident in foreign countries and foreigners who want to return to their home countries may exit.
All these are subjected to a number of Covid-19 screening processes and those entering Zimbabwe should produce a Covid-19 clearance certificate with a validity of two days. Travellers entering South Africa are liable to produce clearance certificates with a validity period of 72 hours, while truck drivers’ certificate must not be older than 30 days.
According to a border official who declined to be named, they are handling an average of 700 travellers daily at Beitbridge.
“This is down from the 5 000 we were handling during the festive season and before the new national lockdown regulations kicked in,” said the official. It is reported that a total of 1 200 commercial trucks are passing through the border, which is the busiest point of entry in the region.
Zimbabwe National Road Administration (ZINARA) spokesperson, Mr Tendai Mugabe, said they had noted a relative decline in light vehicles using the border in the last two weeks.
“We processed a total of 9 100 light vehicles at Beitbridge between January 1 and January 14,” he said. “Now we are seeing a decline, which we believe is linked to the strict enforcement of national lockdown laws.
“Between January 15 and January 27 we processed only 2 100 light motor vehicles.” Before the Covid-19 pandemic, Beitbridge Border Post would handle 15 000 travellers, 2 500 light motor vehicles, 120 buses and 600 commercial trucks daily.
Commercial trucks volumes started increasing in May last year when most countries in the region started implementing lockdowns to control the spread of the pandemic, leaving Zimbabwe as a transit country of choice.
Source – The Herald
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