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Truckers also allowed to swap cargo trailers at the border

TLOTLO KEBINAKGABO

In the wake of protests from truckers driving into or passing through Botswana, the government through the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 has moved to speed up the truckers turn-around time of COVID-19 test results.

Coordinated by Dr Kereng Masupu, the Presidential Task Team on COVID-19 earlier this month made it mandatory for all truck drivers entering Botswana to produce evidence of negative COVID-19 results. This was meant to curb potential cross border infections, something which nevertheless came in with some hiccups.

This week truck drivers more especially from South Africa complained that they are mistreated as they were forced to wait for their results for too long (three days or even more). That frustrated them in such a way that they allegedly disrupted movement of trucks between South Africa and Botswana.

“South African truckers are fuming with anger, they are blocking other trucks from entering or exiting Botswana,” said one local truck driver in an audio that circulated on social media over the weekend. “They are complaining that they are being ill- treated as they are forced to produce negative results before they enter Botswana while the local truckers are not forced to do so when entering South Africa.”

Just two days after the truckers’ protests, Dr Masupu and his team moved on to resolve the delays experienced by truck drivers at various border gates pertaining to the turn-around time of COVID-19 results. “We have ensured that all the commissioned laboratories, the Botswana Vaccine Institute Laboratory, Botswana Harvard Aids Partnership and the National Veterinary Laboratories are now being fully utilized by working collaboratively to run the tests for truck drivers at various border gates,” Dr Masupu noted in a media statement released by his Task Force on Monday evening.

With that, Dr Masupu noted that the enhanced process will reduce the truckers waiting period of results to between 24 and 36 hours. “This will ensure that test results are released to the truck drivers without undue delays. An electronic system has also been implemented to ensure efficient distribution of COVID-19 test results to truck drivers. This will reduce their waiting further,” Dr Masupu stated.

To further mitigate the truckers matter, the government through the Ministry of Transport and Communications (MTC) noted that companies that have trucks themselves are allowed to swap cargo trailers at the border. This was said by MTC Minister Thulaganyo Segokgo during the COVID-19 pandemic update which was held yesterday morning.

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