- Botswana unhappy with bearing cross-border transport test costs alone
- Trans-Kalahari Corridor secretariat acknowledges discrepancy
The Government of Botswana has protested bearing the burden of cross-border transporters’ COVID-19 testing without the help of her neighbours, South Africa and Namibia.
Tensions have been simmering over the issue, with Botswana expressing concern that the two countries were not playing their part. The Botswana Gazette has established that of the three countries, Botswana has been the only one that has been strict with testing cross-border transporters who are among risky essential service providers because of their frequent movement between the countries.
While the Ministry of Health and Wellness has seemed keen to downplay the issue, Leslie Mpofu, the Executive Director of the Secretariat of Trans-Kalahari Corridor, has been quoted by The Namibian as saying Botswana last week decided it would no longer conduct polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests on foreign drivers at border posts for free.
Mpofu acknowledged that Botswana has been paying for the cost alone. According to him the cross-border drivers were instructed to do their own PCR tests as Botswana will no longer test them for free. Consequently, drivers without negative test results will be barred from accessing Botswana, a matter that sources say may increase the trade tensions among the three countries’ relations.
Contradictory results between Botswana and South Africa have been detected for some time at border posts, lending credence to allegations that some drivers were buying negative test results from health facilities to avoid delays. The Botswana Government even followed this up with Interpol but was informed that the allegations had no substance.
It is understood that the cross-border transport woes reached a peak between Botswana and South Africa’s border posts last week when the dispute led to slow movement, long queues and congestion.