Several laboratories have started setting shop in Beitbridge town to service travellers who are required to comply with the internationally set strict and safe cross-border migration standards under the Covid-19 pandemic environment.
The border was re-opened last week and upon arrival, Zimbabwe requires visitors to produce a Covid-19 free certificate with a 48-hour validity.
South Africa requires a certificate with a validity of 72 hours.
With respect to commercial cargo, drivers need Covid-19 free certificates with 14 days’ validity.
A survey around Beitbridge town by our news crew last week revealed that there are four testing laboratories, including the one at the District Referral Hospital.
Testing cost up to US$60 at approved laboratories officering Covid-19 tests in Beitbridge.
Assistant Regional Immigration officer-in-charge of Beitbridge, Mr Nqobile Ncube, said many people waited for the border to officially open for them to start the process of getting their Covid-19 certificates.
“In terms of those travellers who were turned away at the entry points to the border, the most common reasons being brought to our attention are to do with the new Statutory Instrument which makes it clear what form of test is required and acceptable,” he said.
The development comes after cross border traders, who are usually the majority to pass through border posts, have said they are ready to abide by the new protocols to curb the spread of Covid-19 as gazetted by Government.
Cross Border Traders Association of Zimbabwe president Mr Killer Zivhu said the association had already communicated with all its members across the country on what was needed to be done in terms of following the Covid-19 regulations.
“We are well prepared,” he said. “We have identified a registered organisation that is going to test cross border traders and they will be tested on an agreeable fee of US$35. When getting out of the country, they will be tested and given a certificate and when they come back they will be tested and given their results before mixing with others.
“We are going to work hard and closely with the Government in preventing the spread of Covid-19. No one should go out of the country without producing a Covid-19 certificate.
“Some people come as far as Kariba to Beitbridge and let us say they are tested at the border and find that they are positive to the virus, they will be turned back home and what it means is that they will be spreading the virus on their way to the border and they will be spreading it again on their way home.”
Mr Zivhu said testing people before they travelled to the borders would minimise the spread of Covid-19, and cross border traders had heeded the call to do so.
The association has identified various centres in towns and cities like Harare, Beitbridge, Mutare, Plumtree, Victoria Falls and Hwange, where cross border traders can be tested for Covid-19 at a lower cost. Mr Zivhu appealed for Government to allow buses to carry people travelling through the border since the majority of cross border traders did not have private cars.