Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on Home Affairs, Advocate Bongani Bongo, has called for urgent intervention regarding the movement of people and trucks through the Beit Bridge border post in Limpopo.
This follows reports of kilometres of cars and trucks backlog at the bridge which has resulted in people spending days queuing to cross the border.
"While we understand the need for stringent health checks necessitated by COVID-19, we are also cognisant of the strategic importance of the Beit Bridge crossing to trade in Africa. It is in this context that strategies should have been put in place to mitigate such an occurrence, especially in relation to reducing operating hours," Bongo said.
He emphasised that it is necessary at this juncture for the Department of Home Affairs, together with sister departments operating at ports of entry, to develop and implement emergency strategies that will alleviate the congestion at that border crossing.
Bongo said the congestion has also highlighted the urgent need to operationalise the Border Management Agency, which will improve the agility in dealing with such situations in the future.
He said the committee however, remains cognisant of the need to ensure efforts of slowing down the spread of COVID-19 are strengthened, "thus those intervention plans must incorporate COVID-19 mitigation strategies".
"Central to the call for mitigating strategies, is the need to find a workable balance between ensuring reasonable ease of movement of people across the border, ease of movement of goods to enable trade, and ensuring that we achieve the goal of reducing transmission of the disease," Bongo said.
He said that he is hopeful that the South African Government will move with speed to deal with the challenges faced at the border crossing.
Meanwhile Home Affairs Minister, Aaron Motsoaledi said the congestion at the Beitbridge Border post is caused by truck drivers doing their administration on the road.
Motsoaledi said this is not the first time this has happened.
Travellers have been stuck there for more than five days, waiting to get into Zimbabwe.
The minister added that more law enforcement officials were roped to assist at the border post.