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Trans Kalahari truck drivers hail Botswana

17 Oct 2022

Every minute trucks ferrying tons of freight pull over and take off at remote Sekoma village situated along the mighty Trans Kalahari Corridor either heading to neighboring Namibia or South Africa.

In this small village, trucks are a common sight either in transit or fueling. Truck drivers who frequent the area have lauded Botswana for its low crime rate, peace and tranquility that enable them to ferry goods uninterrupted. 

They hailed Botswana as a safe haven highlighting that the low crime rate strengthened connectivity between economies, enhanced competitiveness across connected markets, and smoothened regional public goods transportation.

Mr Salmon Hendricks, a South African national working for Anderson Transport said, “I have been driving trucks for the past 27 years and Botswana has always been a safe place, however the biggest problem is the animals on the road. 

I usually enter Botswana through Pioneer Border gate and exit through Mamuno border into Namibia,” he said.

Mr Hendricks noted that another challenge in cargo transportation was that they experienced delays at the borders which affected collection of the next consignment in another country. 

He appreciated that the Pioneer Border gate near Lobatse was being revamped to make it a one stop border post, “ we have noticed that they are busy renovating Pioneer Border gate reduce delays and we understand as truck drivers as they want to make things better for us,” he smiled.  

Mr Lazarus Motsumi of Jacques Beuks Transportation based in Ghanzi also acknowledged Botswana as a safe haven for truck drivers, however the main challenge for them was animals along the Trans Kalahari Highway. 

Another challenge was that the revenue services system was often down at the boarders hence the need to harmonise systems and seamlessly integrate them to avoid delays. 

“We can wait for a day of two. The system can be down in another country while in the other it is okay, sometimes they assist us manually to clear at the boarder and it takes time. The more we wait the more we lose time,” he said.

Narrating his ordeal, he said transiting through the South Africa side was a challenge for truck drivers, “here it is not safe and so it is important to get a safer place to park at truck stops. I have experienced tyre theft when I was sleeping at night, in the morning I found truck rear wheels gone.

Sometimes they wake you up at gun point and force you to remove the tyres and in such cases you just have to let them take them,” he said.

He appreciated that the roads in South Africa and Namibia were in a very good condition, fenced and they did not encounter animals on the roads and called for Botswana to emulate the two countries and come up with policies and legislation to ensure that animals were kept far away from the roads to ensure safety for truck drivers and other motorists.

For his part, Mr Mohlomi Qhoasho of Lesotho working for Karibo Namib Trading said he enjoyed the smooth transit in Botswana as he could park and rest anywhere while driving along the Trans Kalahari highway. 

“Botswana is so peaceful. You can sleep anywhere you want and wake up with your goods in place,” he said.

Mr Qhoasho wants more fuel stations to be built along the Trans Kalahari Corridor, “We need a fuel station between Sekoma and Kang and another one between Kang and Ghanzi because sometimes we can be stuck there and there is no network if you become stuck somewhere in between there can be problems,” he said.

Another truck driver from South Africa Mr Thabiso Mashinini said he used the corridor twice in a week driving from Johannesburg, South Africa through Botswana to Walvis Bay, Namibia and back again. 

For Mashinini, the road condition is generally good except for a few potholes here and there. 

He said the delays at the boarders due to a system down must be rectified to improve logistics efficiencies.

He said there were truck stops in South Africa which created employment opportunities for the people hence called for truck stops to be built in Botswana to facilitate truck drivers to rest as it took a day to cross between the three countries hence they needed to rest well.

Meanwhile renovations were ongoing to upgrade seven border posts to be one stop border posts which include Pioneer Gate, Mamuno, Tlokweng, Martin’s Drift, Ramokgwebana, Kazungula Ferry and Ramatlabama. Director of Department of Immigration and Citizenship Ms Caroline Okello-Wengi said during a tour of Kgalagadi borders in 2020, the exercise was expected to be completed by next year.

The development promoted a coordinated and integrated approach to movements of goods and people. Once completed, the seven border posts would shorten turnaround time of vehicle and goods clearance, facilitate trade, ease of movement of people, improved security and quality controls. The development would reduce logistic costs, as there would be simplified and harmonised procedures.

The trucks at Sekoma move along the Trans Kalahari Corridor (a road network spanning approximately 1 900 kilometers across the territories of Botswana, Namibia and South Africa. 

It starts in the Gauteng Province in South Africa and continues through Rustenburg and Zeerust in the North-West Province, through Lobatse and Kanye in Botswana, the Mamuno and Trans Kalahari Border Posts, through Gobabis, Windhoek and Okahandja in Namibia and right through to the Port of Walvis Bay.

TKC cuts the distance between southern Namibia to South Africa's Gauteng by 400km, and provides a short transport link across the entire breadth of the South African Sub-continent, reducing logistical costs to users. ENDS

Source : BOPA

Author : Calviniah Kgautlhe

Location : SEKOMA

Event : Interview

Date : 17 Oct 2022