20 Mar 2023
Truck drivers plying their trade between Botswana and South Africa have exercised caution due to the on-going national shutdown in South Africa.
In an interview, one of the truckers, a South African citizen, Mr Lovedy Makgopa who works for Onelogiux transporters, indicated that he crossed into Botswana on Sunday night, but was uncertain on the situation back home.
“When I came here yesterday, there was no incident on my route because the shutdown had not yet started, but now I am uneasy. I will just cross the border and wait at the South African side until the situation abates,” he said.
Mr Makgopa, who came to Botswana to deliver second-hand vehicles, indicated that although he had not yet heard of any incidents, he would prefer to be cautious than sorry.
“I have already communicated with my bosses that side and they are assessing the situation. We agreed that they will give me the green light when it is safe to proceed,” he said.
Another driver, Mr Eric Mcunu, said he was equally cautious. “Those people can be radical, especially on truckers that transport food stuff like me. I think when I travel back I will be safer because I am not carrying any load with me. Nevertheless, I will exercise caution and wait a bit at the nearest village in South Africa,” he said.
From the South African side, a number of trucks were lined up to be cleared, with the drivers indicating that they spent the night at the border. One of them, Mr Enos Phiri, who said he was going to Zambia, said he left his base on Sunday.
“On my way here there was no incident. Maybe those who can give you a better view of the situation back are those that will be arriving in the afternoon or tomorrow,” he said.
Mr Phiri said he did not expect to face any challenges since the shutdown was only for a day.
For her part, the customs manager at the border, Ms Catherine Lephojane said it was still early to gauge if the shutdown had any effects on the movement of goods between the two countries.
“Normally our Mondays are not that busy, so it will be very difficult to tell the effects today. We normally start getting heavy traffic on Tuesdays,” she said.
Ms Lephojane also said they had not received any communication from their South African counterparts concerning the expected impact of the shutdown.
Efforts to get information from the immigration department on the movement of people failed, but those on the ground similarly indicated that just like movement of goods, the movement of people was not usually that much on Mondays.
The shutdown in South Africa is spearheaded by the Economic Freedom Fighters who said it was a sign of loss of confidence in the current administration, citing among others, power challenges as well as high rate of unemployment and crime. ENDS
Source : BOPA
Author : Olekantse Sennamose
Location : GABORONE
Event : Interview
Date : 20 Mar 2023