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Road Freight Association believes Beitbridge border deaths could have been prevented

Road Freight Association believes Beitbridge border deaths could have been prevented

Road Freight Association believes Beitbridge border deaths could have been prevented

By IOL Reporter Time of article published 49m ago

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THE delays at the Beitbridge border post over recent weeks, which resulted in the deaths of four truck drivers and a female bus passenger as well as numerous cases of drivers collapsing from the heat and lack of water, should never happen again.

According to the Road Freight Association, although queues at the border post have been significantly reduced, the situation has not yet been fully resolved.

RFA chief executive Gavin Kelly said since the Department of Health removed the requirement for truck drivers to be tested for Covid-19 at Beitbridge, the queues have reduced significantly from 20km to less than 5km over the past three days.

Kelly said while they are relieved that the queues are far shorter, the crisis is not yet over.

“The deaths could have been easily avoided. We know that the border is bustling every festive season, as foreign nationals working in South Africa return home for the holidays. To prevent this crisis from happening again, there needs to be joint co-ordination between the role-players involved at the border – including the private sector. The RFA is a critical stakeholder in this supply chain and will actively support a body that is put together to address the chaos at the border post," Kelly said.

He reiterated the association’s previous statements that the truck drivers were not to blame for the delays.

“The fact that the length of the queues has been reduced by 75% since Covid-19 testing for truck drivers at the border post has been lifted is proof of this. Recent statements from the Minister of Health and the Parliament Oversight Committee of Home Affairs blaming truck drivers are simply not true. The total lack of planning by the Departments of Health and Home Affairs is the reason for the situation at the border,” he said.

Before transporters can move to the border, they must complete pre-clearing and have valid tests for their drivers. These requirements from the SA Revenue Service (Sars) have been in place for years and Sars has noted that over 95% of transporters crossing at Beitbridge are – and remain – compliant.

“The RFA remains committed to the smooth flow of traffic at Beitbridge and looks forward to participating in a forum that pro-actively plans and manages the border post. Beitbridge is a critical enabler of trade and business in Africa,” Kelly said.

He added that the cost of delays at the border post is roughly R5 000 a truck a day. This amounts to R250 000 a day a kilometre of traffic queue.

“This is unsustainable, unnecessary and unacceptable,” he said. | IOL

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