Cross-border traders have appealed to the government to open the country’s borders for them as they have been out of business for too long.
Zimbabwe Cross-Border Traders Association, (ZCBTA) project-co-ordinators Eric Chikukwa said they are willing to do their business under prescribed conditions.
Chikukwa was speaking on the sidelines of an ongoing training and capacity building programme that is being rolled out by the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) in Beitbridge. He said:
Since the start of the lockdowns in March last year, most of our members who restock and sell goods outside our borders are failing to operate under normal conditions.
We have tried to pool resources to import our goods as consolidated cargo but that is not sustainable considering the costs and that some need to sell their products out of the country.
Chikukwa also bemoaned the exorbitant COVID-19 testing fees (US$60) which he said was beyond the reach of most of them.
He also said the lack of harmonisation of operations between South African and Zimbabwe border authorities had also presented more challenges to travellers.
South Africa is Zimbabwe’s biggest trading partner and its borders are open for ordinary travellers while Zimbabwean borders remain closed.
Beitbridge chairman of the cross-border transport operators, Takavingei Mahachi had this to say:
We are counting losses. Our vehicles are parked and we continue paying for permits as commercial transporters, but we are out of business.
We appeal to the Government to open up space for small-time cross-border transporters. We play a great role in facilitating trade in our own way.
Zimbabwe’s borders are open only to commercial cargo/ freight, diplomats on Government business, returnees and bodies coming for burial in the country.