Aaron Motsoaledi on Wednesday set the record straight regarding recent congestion at the Beitbridge border post.
The home affairs minister was outlining the government’s Covid-19 intervention procedures as the country expected volumes of people to return to SA between January 2 and 14.
He said among reported inaccuracies were claims that the government, particularly his department, failed to plan ahead to reduce huge congestion at Beitbridge.
“It was also claimed that as a result of this lack of planning, four or five truck drivers died of dehydration while waiting in the queue because the state failed to provide water and ablution facilities.”
“In December 2019 there were 368,895 travellers [who] crossed Beitbridge. In contrast, by December 27 2020 there were only 103,224 who crossed Beitbridge.
“Simply put, only 27% of the travellers who crossed Beitbridge last year did so this year.”
Explaining what occurred, he said: “It is well known that Botswana introduced tight lockdown regulations and a strict curfew to protect her own citizens from the ravages of Covid-19. Many trucking companies found it unprofitable to cross into the region through Botswana. The SA border post with Botswana which is closest to Beitbridge is Groblersbrug.”
Usually at this time of the year, he said, Groblersbrug was used as an overflow area when Beitbridge could not cope with the number of trucks.
“This year it was the other way round. Trucking companies diverted their trucks away from Groblersbrug to Beitbridge because they did not accept the waiting times imposed by the Covid protocols in Botswana.”
He said in December last year 6,706 trucks went through Groblersbrug.