Mutare — Business at the Forbes-Machipanda border post has been brought to a virtual standstill after Mozambican authorities Monday closed the border as it moves to try and combat the spread of coronavirus.
A survey by this publication showed that Zimbabweans coming from the Port City of Beira were being allowed to cross back into Zimbabwe while those entering Mozambique were being turned away.
The hardest hit are cross border traders who frequent the town of Chimoio for trade and other Zimbabweans who rely on the neighbouring country for basic goods such as rice, cooking oil and cheap second hand clothes.
Immigration officers were screening all travellers.
There were long winding queues of trucks ferrying goods to Port City of Beira from Zimbabwe.
“We are not blocking people from visiting our country but as a precautionary measure, we are doing a thorough screening. We also want Zimbabweans travelling to Mozambique to provide us with address of places they are visiting so that they are easy to trace,” said one immigration officer who declined to be named for professional reasons.
A clearing agent who operates between the Forbes Border Post and Machipanda said business was low and Zimbabweans who want to cross into Mozambique were being requested to stay for two weeks before returning so as to minimise the spread of the virus between the two countries.
“As you can see there is no movement, only trucks coming from Port of Beira are allowed, but those from Zimbabwe have been stopped. We are just waiting to be updated by the authorities on the next move,” said Elvis Marapira, a local clearing agent.
He said the virus had impacted negatively on the freight industry adding that more companies would incur huge losses due to the delays on transportation of cargo.
However, the border between Zimbabwe and Mozambique is very porous and most hard pressed locals would be forced to use undesignated points to continue their trade.
Meanwhile, the business sector in the eastern border city has started implementing precautionary measures which were recommended by World Health Organisation (WHO) after government declared coronavirus a national disaster.
The tourism sector here has stopped making bookings from visitors from high risk countries and are equipping workers with protective clothing and sanitisers.