Home South African Four truck drivers die while waiting to cross Beitbridge border post

Four truck drivers die while waiting to cross Beitbridge border post

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“Government needs to act quickly if the humanitarian and business catastrophe is to be averted”

Picture: Motshwari Mofokeng

THE CRISIS at the Beitbridge border post is growing, after four truck drivers died while many are standing in long queues as congestion worsens.

This is according to chief executive Gavin Kelly from The Road Freight Association (RFA) who said four truck drivers have died while many other are going without food, water and medicines at the Beitbridge border.

Kelly said that the cost of these delays for the road freight industry is prohibitive.

“Already four drivers have passed away, whilst many more languish without food, water and medicines that they depend on.

“In addition – there are reports of drivers being attacked and robbed whilst standing in the queue. The delays have cost the road freight industry at least R35 million in direct extra costs, with customers’ costs at least double that. Over the last month at various border crossings, delays have resulted in costs of at least R770 million.

“This latest crisis has put trade with Africa, the fasting growing export market for SA goods over the last decade, under threat. Government needs to act quickly if the humanitarian and business catastrophe is to be averted – and more importantly – prevented from ever happening again,” said Kelly.

The cause surrounding the deaths remain unclear but it’s purported that the deaths are linked to the delays at the border.

Following reports of numerous people stuck at the border post for several days because of a traffic backlog, Parliament’s portfolio committee on Home Affairs has been prompted to intervene.

The chairperson of the committee, advocate Bongani Bongo, on Thursday called for urgent intervention at the border post where there was a queue of trucks and travellers spanning a few kilometres at the Beitbridge border post between Limpopo and Zimbabwe.

The bumper-to-bumper traffic at Beitbridge, according to Bongo, is the result of “stringent” health checks put in place to contain the spread of the coronavirus.

South Africa’s cumulative positive Covid-19 case count rose to 954,258 on Wednesday, with 14,046 new cases since the last count. The death toll is 25,657.

“All provinces, with the exception of the Eastern Cape, continue to report increases in their cases, with KwaZulu-Natal, Western Cape and Gauteng provinces registering the largest increases and comprising 81% of the new cases today (30%, 28% and 23% respectively),” the Department of Health said on Wednesday.

Truck drivers who have spent days at the post said they have been left to fend for themselves while waiting to be screened and have become the targets of numerous robberies.

The secretary of the All Truck Drivers Foundation in Gauteng, Mandla Mngomezulu said that in a space of a week he has heard of 10 incidents in which drivers were robbed of their cellphones and clothes at night.

Mngomezulu said that he spent five days at the border post last week, which was largely due to screening being conducted.

African News Agency (ANA)

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