Zambia has announced that truck drivers entering the country will have to produce a medical certificate with a negative Covid-19 status to be allowed in.
The new requirement comes into effect from Wednesday 02 September 2020.
The move may cause more frustration for truck drivers on the busy Chirundu and Kasumbalesa border posts as drivers who arrive without the certificates would be forced to obtain it first.
Ordinarily, the process of testing for Covid-19 takes about three days. This will definitely cause freight delays, however, Zambia’s Ministry of Health has refused to budge after being engaged by the Federation of East and Southern African Road Transport Associations (Fesarta).
Mike Fitzmaurice, Fesarta chief executive, said that Zambian authorities indicated that they were willing to help obtain the relevant certificates for drivers at borders such as Chirundu.
And although the certificates will be valid for 14 days, it is generally felt that one two-week period will not be enough for a return trip in and out of the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s copper mining province of Haut Katanga.
“It can take up to 10 or 11 days to complete a trip in and out of the Copperbelt, and it also depends on what load you’re carrying. Taking fuel up to Lubumbashi is one thing but say you’re taking flat-bed load up and returning with copper from Kolwezi, it could take up two weeks in the DRC before your load is cleared. It means a lot of transporters will require two certificates – one on the northbound journey and another to come back,” Fitzmaurice told Freight News.
At a cost of about R850 and $30 for each test, transporters also feel that it will add to delays at Zambia’s notoriously problematic North-South Corridor (NSC) borders of Chirundu and Kasumbalesa with Zimbabwe and the DRC respectively.
“It’s bound to happen,” Fitzmaurice said.
“Recently we’ve had such issues with congestion at Chirundu that it sometimes took trucks up to five days to get through the border. Now we have this too – and let’s not even mention Kasumbalesa.”
The level of frustration among road freighters on the corridor was such, Fitzmaurice said, that the restriction would most likely be exploited for the sake of criminal expediency.
“Mark my words, within in a few days you’ll have fraudulent certificates for sale to truck drivers that can afford it.”