Botswana: Some Border Gates Experience International Travel Hitches

Kasane — A COVID-19 presidential task team tour of the country’s border gates following the lifting of the international travel ban has revealed teething problems at some ports of entry.

Speaking in an interview, task team coordinator Dr Kereng Masupu cited a December 4 incident at Road Border in which trucks exiting Botswana were blocked by truckers on the other side who had lost patience to enter Botswana.

The situation was managed and everything had since returned to normalcy, he said.

He said in order to improve turnaround time and reduce congestion at points of entry, specimen collected at Botswana border gates would be sent for processing twice daily.

The interview followed the team’s tour of Ngoma and Road borders on December 5.

Dr Masupu explained that the purpose was to consult and share challenges emanating from the opening of the borders on December 1 and come up with mitigation measures.

He said all travelers were expected to produce COVID-19 test results upon arrival and in the event they failed to do so, they would be tested at a fee.

The required COVID-19 certificate should indicate when the swab was done and that the results should not be more than 72 hours old, he explained.

Dr Masupu said only Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) negative results were acceptable. The coordinator said it was imperative for all frontline workers to wear surgical masks properly at all times to protect themselves and travelers from contracting the coronavirus.

He also reiterated the need to continue adhering to COVID-19 protocols.

For his part, National Laboratory head Dr Madisa Mine said construction of the Kazungula Weighbridge laboratory was 90 per cent complete adding that progress was satisfactory.

He said turnaround time was 24 hours as the region had two machines, one processing more than 1 000 samples a day and the other with a capacity of over 250.

At Ngoma Border, Dr Rapelang Peter told the team that results of specimen collected before 6pm were released at 8am the following morning.

Port health officer at the same border, Ms Gwilizani Dubani told the team that since December 1, the movement of travelers had increased especially for transporters of UK second hand vehicles coming through Walvis Bay. On average, she said, the port serviced 20-30 truckers but on December 4, numbers shot up to 40-50.

Ms Dubani said some travelers failed to produce PCR results but rather brought rapid test results and had to be turned back.

Source : BOPA