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Covid-19 testing at borders delays essential cargo trucks for days

Covid-19 testing at borders delays essential cargo trucks for days
During Phase 4 of the lockdown, only “essential” cargo is allowed to be transported across South Africa borders with other African countries. Photo: Petr David Josek/AP

CAPE TOWN – Covid-19 testing of drivers by Botswana and Mozambican border personnel means there are long queues of trucks that often have to wait days to cross the border with South Africa, Road Freight Association (RFA) spokesperson Gavin Kelly said Thursday.

“They are sovereign countries so there is very little we can do about it, It is their prerogative” he said in a telephone interview with Business Report.

He said one recent extreme example was at a Republic of Congo border crossing, where the queue of trucks was 80 kilometres long. South African border personnel only screen drivers for Covid-19 symptoms.

“When you do a test, it takes nothing less than a day to get a result. Most often it takes two days, and it takes even longer depending how far flung the border post is from the nearest medical facility,” said Kelly.

He questioned how social distancing was achieved with the long queues of trucks at the borders, and especially considering the tests were theoretically only valid for 72 hours.

During Phase 4 of the lockdown, only “essential” cargo is allowed to be transported across South Africa borders with other African countries.

Business Report witnessed videos of queues of trucks on Youtube, waiting to enter South Africa at the Ressano Garcia/Lebombo Border Post with Mozambique. This backlog was also evident, but not as serious, on the South African side from Komatipoort.

The trucks were queued up for many kilometres and would wait up to 48 hours, reportedly with no sustenance and ablution facilities available for the drivers.

BUSINESS REPORT