In their visit to the border posts this week the members of Parliament found that the congestion was so bad that there is no adherence to Covid-19 rules at all.
South African Parliament’s home affairs committee has called on the country’s government to quickly implement the border management act (BMA) to answer the problems of efficiently managing the border crisis.
The act was signed into law in July 2020 and once implemented it will establish the Border Management Agency that will manage the borders as a single unit than currently where different agencies all play different roles in managing aspects of border control.
Members of the committee this week visited the Beitbridge border post in Limpopo and the Lebombo border in Mpumalanga.
Beitbridge links Zimbabwe and South Africa while Lebombo joins us with Mozambique.
Committee chairman Bongani Bongo said the systems of operations at the borders are not satisfying at all.
Bongo said it was worrying that when they did the Lebombo visit Thursday 14 January 2021 there were only three health officials testing people for Covid-19.
Bongo said they found no adherence to basic health protocols, such as social distancing and availability of hand sanitisers at the ports of entry and this was “unacceptable”.
“Also worrying was the limited port health practitioners to test people arriving at the border, a problem which extended the period of stay at the border and which has a potential of being a super spreader,” he said, calling for accountability on those entrusted with these jobs.
Also speed point machines were not working, affecting travellers who wanted to pay for tests.
“We call for an urgent action plan from all stakeholder departments,” Bongo said, “that will ensure that adherence to health protocols that are intended to curb the transmission of Covid-19″.
He added that a political will was needed from government to ensure the implementation of the border management act, Covid-19 rules under the disaster management act and the one-stop border concept.
“We need a political will to deal with the problem,” he said.
Bongo added that the Parliamentary committee is going to invite home affairs minister Dr Aaron Motsoaledi when it sits to account for the border posts issues.
The one-stop border post concept will see travellers and goods being cleared at one point for either entry or exit into both countries, as is currently the situation at Chirundu Border Post, and unlike at present when both sides of the border duplicate the processes – wasting time.
“To alleviate the perpetual crisis at this border, the government must move with speed to implement an already agreed policy position to establish a one-stop border post,” said Bongo.
“The tardiness in implementing this policy position is both unacceptable and a contributing factor to problems at this port of entry.
“Furthermore, the one-stop border post will ensure that South Africa and its neighbouring countries operate on a similar platform which will make crossing at the border easy.
“The committee believes that the border management act will be an added force in handling the high volume of people and goods at the port of entry,” he said.
Bongo has also called on what he called a “Parliament-to-Parliament conversation” between South Africa and other neighbouring countries in the Southern African subcontinent.
“What we have resolved on as a committee is that we need to have Parliament to Parliament and government to government conversation with all the neighbouring countries of the Southern African subcontinent on how we can improve the situation at the borders”.
(edited by ZK)
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