Thupeyo Muleya Beitbridge Bureau
The movement of travelers through Beitbridge Border Post has relatively improved after South African authorities moved to end serious delays which saw people spending up to 48 hours to cross the border.
Long delays at the border claimed the lives of five Zimbabweans in the last five days while awaiting to be cleared out of South Africa.
Police in the neighbouring country said the causes of deaths were yet to be ascertained, although one of the victims had been confirmed to have had complications with his heart
Limpopo police spokesperson, Brigadier Motlafela Mopjapelo confirmed the deaths last night.
“We have recorded a total of five deaths at the border. These include three women and two men.
“The two women died on Wednesday, another woman died today at the Home Affairs departure bay. The truck driver who is said to have had a heart problem, died on Thursday, while another man died on the same day at Shell filling station,” said Brig Mojapelo.
Limpopo’s Department of Transport spokesperson, Mr Matome Moremi, said a team led by the director of Traffic and Community Safety, Mr Allen Matsila was already at work on the ground decongesting the N1 highway to push the clearance of northbound traffic.
“What we are doing is the separation of traffic into heavy and light vehicles. The light vehicles are being directed to a holding place at the Musina Showgrounds as soon as they arrive in Musina. From there, they are being cleared into the border post in batches,” he said.
Mr Moremi said the decongestion plan had started paying dividends since they had managed to clear the gridlock on the 12km stretch leading to the border post.
He said commercial trucks were being processed separately considering they would be transporting essential cargo.
The official said the long queues were a result of a curfew that was being implemented after 10pm in that country in line with Covid-19 containment protocols.
Zimbabwe’ Ambassador to South Africa, Mr David Hamadziripi said Harare and Pretoria were already in contact with a view to finding a sustainable solution to the delays currently being experienced by travellers at Beitbridge Border Post.
“It is our expectation that the results of these efforts will be discernible very soon,” said the Ambassador.
Assistant Regional Immigration Officer-in-charge of Beitbridge, Mr Nqobile Ncube said the traffic flow had greatly improved and there were in constant touch with their counterparts to address bottlenecks as and when they arose.
“Our counterparts in South Africa have managed to unlock the traffic problems which they have been having.
As we speak, traffic is moving smoothly to both sides of the border and on our side, we have kicked in a rapid response mechanism to speed up the flow of both human and cargo traffic,” he said.
An average of 6 500 travellers, 1 200 commercial trucks and 2 500 light vehicles are passing through the border daily, with truckers being the hardes hit since they started experiencing long delays three weeks ago.