From today, 1 October 2020, truck drivers will be forced to adhere to new rules at South African borders as announced by the South African Revenue Services (SARS).
The tax authority said that truck drivers would now be required to present Covid-19 negative results upon departure from RSA and on arrival.
According to the protocol, decided upon by the Southern African Development Community (SADC) at the end of July, drivers will henceforth have to present laboratory certificates proving they have been tested for the coronavirus.
The certificates, which may not be older than 72 hours and are valid for 14 days, have sparked a fair amount of opposition from private sector logistics concerns, with many transporters complaining of not being consulted by either the SADC or any country officials representing health and/or transport officials.
When the protocol’s 1 September date arrived, Zambia was the only SADC partner to implement the determination, causing hauliers to ridicule the coronavirus-curbing measure as yet another case of the SADC talking about border harmonisation while practising the opposite.
In a statement, a SARS operations manager added that all positive truck drivers were to be handled as per the Department of Health Guidelines.
“All other health control measures are also applicable to truck drivers.”
Cross border transporters have expressed their unhappiness with the decision by SARS to implement such measures without giving a proper notice period.
“What about drivers that are currently out of South Africa? Will they be able to come back from countries where the protocol is not implemented and testing is not mandatory for them?” an irate cross border transporter asked.
Meanwhile, truck drivers who were found to not have the Covid-19 negative certificates at the Beitbridge border post just after midnight on Thursday were forced to park aside as officials demanded them before handling their passports.
Allegations of corruption have begun to suffice also as officials are alleged to demand money to attend to truck drivers without the certificates.
SA Trucker spoke to a truck driver who said he was lucky that he got the certificate from a mine he delivered to in Zimbabwe.
“A lot of truck drivers have been denied entry because they don’t have the certificate, I don’t know how they will deal with them because a lot more are coming,” said the trucker who refused to be named.