Open Borders for the Vaccinated, Cross-border Traders Implore Govt

The government has been implored to consider reopening the country’s land borders to vaccinated cross-border traders so they can resume their business at full throttle. Zimbabwe’s land borders have remained closed for the greater part of 2020 and even 2021 as part of measures by the government to curb the spread of Covid-19. This has, however, adversely impacted the operations of many informal traders in the country whose livelihoods largely depend on cross-border activities.

Despite repeated calls by cross-border trade associations for the government to reopen the land borders just as it has done with airports, the latter is yet to budge. Land borders are only open to returning citizens and those with valid permits from other countries.

Speaking to CITE this week, Pretty Mpofu, a cross border trader said their businesses were suffocating as a result of the prolonged border closures, urging the government to address their plight by beginning with opening the ports of entry to the fully vaccinated.

“If possible they can allow just 100 cross-border traders to pass per day or simply limit the number of buses crossing on a day. That can minimise overcrowding at the border posts. The same way the government has allowed the vaccinated to return to churches, they should allow us to cross the borders to other countries and resume our business.”

She added: “As informal traders, we are faced with many challenges of looking after children at home. If the government could at least say those that are fully vaccinated are now allowed to cross borders, it would be a welcome development.”

Zimbabwe cross-border traders association president, Killer Zivhu said it was high time the government opened the borders to the majority of Zimbabweans who depend on crossing the borders to feed their families. “Many people have been vaccinated and they should be allowed to cross the borders,” said Zivhu.

“If the government feels it is not yet to open borders, then it should create employment for those people who depend on cross border trading so they can be able to feed their families.”

Zivhu said it was unfortunate that citizens of Zambia and Malawi as well as Zimbabweans with South African permits get in and out of Zimbabwe as they please some using fake negative Covid-19 certificates while cross border traders are denied that chance by the government.

Bulawayo Vendors and Traders Association (BVTA) director, Michael Ndiweni there is no point for borders to remain closed, adding those vaccinated should be allowed easy access.

The government recently allowed fully vaccinated believers to resume attending church services, while the Zimbabwe International Trade Fair Company has also said attendance at this year’s edition of the jamboree will be a preserve of those that have already received both doses of the Covid-19 vaccine.

Source: Centre for Innovation and Technology

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