4 truck drivers have died while queuing at the Beitbridge border post - RFA

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Trucks parked at Beit Bridge border post.  (Gallo)
Trucks parked at Beit Bridge border post. (Gallo)
  • Truck drivers are reportedly spending days at the Beitbridge border post.
  • According to the Road Freight Association (RFA), there were no facilities or amenities for truck drivers. 
  • Other drivers were allegedly bribing their way to the front resulting to fights. 

Four truck drivers have died as snaking queues continue at the Beitbridge border post, the Road Freight Association (RFA) said on Thursday. 

The association has now called on President Cyril Ramaphosa to rectify and resolve what it described as an unacceptable crisis at the busy border post between South Africa and Zimbabwe. 

According to the DA, it was reported that thousands had been left stranded for days on end and two people have died from fatigue while waiting to cross the border. 

Long lines of trucks and other vehicles were queuing for 20km in both directions and truck drivers  were taking up to nine days to cross - with no facilities and amenities to accommodate them along with thousands of others, the RFA said in a statement.

It called for urgent action to resolve the disaster at the border. 

Its chief executive, Gavin Kelly, said the situation was "desperate", with truck parks packed to capacity as well as streets in surrounding towns.

Kelly added Covid-19 checks and curfews have exacerbated the situation at the border, saying with proper planning, the chaos could have been avoided. 

"The RFA is aware of at least four drivers who have died in their trucks due to the dire situation and conditions - with unconfirmed reports of another seven from local SAPS authorities.

"Moreover, there are no facilities or amenities to make the delays more manageable or to provide much-needed relief. There is no food and there is no water to drink or to bath. There are also no ablution facilities," the RFA said. 

Safety

Kelly said drivers queuing at the border were exposed to many risks and dangers because they were not sitting in their trucks but loitering around trying to investigate what was causing the delays.

He added they were fighting those who allegedly tried to bribe their way through, saying they were also not getting any sleep because they feared losing their places in the queue.

Kelly said:

Exhaustion is a reality and this impacts on their ability to function effectively and drive safely. They are not able to perform at their best and therefore safety is compromised. This is a serious concern.

To speed things up, drivers were also allegedly resorting to bribing traffic officials with amounts up to R1 000 to skip the long queue.

Kelly said the more one paid, the better chance one got to be cleared, resulting in delays for those waiting their turn.  

"This dire situation cannot continue - it is impacting on the lives of our drivers, the surrounding areas, consumers and business.

"The delays have cost over R700 million to date and this figure is going to increase substantially. This crisis could have been avoided. We call on government to take speedy action to address this."

News24 reported earlier that truck driver and Gauteng secretary of the All Truck Drivers Foundation Mandla Mngomezulu said drivers were also being robbed of their cellphones and clothes while waiting to be screened for Covid-19 because there was only police visibility during the day.

Mngomezulu added he spent five days at the border last week, saying the biggest cause of the delay was the screening process. 

Truck drivers are required to undergo a test upon entry to South Africa, but these are only conducted between 09:00 and 17:00.


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