South Africa is set to re-open the Beitbridge border on the 15th of February after it was closed for a month amid a coronavirus resurgence in the country.
15 February is the date referenced by the Department of Home Affairs, which provided a detailed reopening plan to parliament on Tuesday morning.
The Border Management Agency (BMA) told the Home Affairs Portfolio Committee of the South African parliament on Tuesday that it had put plans in place in preparation for the re-opening of the Beitbridge Border.
BMA commissioner Gene Ravele told MPs that some of the measures being implemented include limiting the number of haulage trucks in the exit queue at any given time, deploying additional healthcare workers, and a ticket system for rapid Covid-19 tests. He said:
We’re going to keep the queue (for trucks) on the N1 at 700 meters.
If the queue becomes more than 700 meters, we will divert trucks to truck stops…
We spoke to the service providers and they’ve confirmed that everything will be there by no later than February 14.
We’re having final discussions with the department of health and National Health Laboratories to look into increased capacity to be deployed.
Ravele also said additional holding areas provided by the Musina Local Municipality in December will be used to accommodate any overflow from the truck stop nearest to Beitbridge border post.
He added that these additional holding sites will be equipped with ablution facilities and running water.
Ravele also said all persons entering South Africa from abroad have to present a negative Covid-19 test conducted within a window of 72 hours.
This requirement is believed to be one of the reasons why there was congestion at borders since conducting tests in neighbouring countries is a bit expensive than having tests at the border.
For instance, in Lesotho and Zimbabwe, in that order, these tests cost about R800 and US$60 while testing stations managed by South Africa’s National Health Laboratory Services offer testing for just R170.