Botswana: Lockdown Forces Zimbabweans to Go Home

Ramokgwebana — Ramokgwebana border has over the weekend experienced a large number of Zimbabweans going home attributable to Zimbabwe's lockdown which commenced yesterday.

Between March 27 and March 28, a total of over 600 travelers, including 103 illegal immigrants, had departed to Zimbabwe.

As for arrivals, a total of 131 had reported at the border since Friday out of which 22 were Batswana, 42 residents and 67 truck drivers.

The weekend arrivals increases to 524 the total number of quarantined people who entered Botswana through Ramokgwebana Border Gate since March 24.

In an interview, chief immigration officer, Ms Lindiwe Ngwenya said the gate had experienced a high outflow over the weekend, which she attributed to Zimbabwe's lockdown which started yesterday.

With regard to illegal immigrants, Ms Ngwenya revealed that some were arrested at the border fence trying to cross in and out of Botswana.

Others, she said, presented themselves at the border gate without passports and were charged and repatriated.

Ms Ngwenya said last week, they had experienced an influx of Botswana citizens and residents who were put into mandatory quarantine as per the directive which effected on March 24.

She said the biggest concern was the fact that buses from Zimbabwe continued to report in numbers at the border gate without any passengers on board.

This, she said, raised an alarm for immigration officers because the assumption was that the buses were carrying illegal immigrants and dropped them off before arriving at the border.

Ms Ngwenya called for the suspension of bus movement until the COVID-19 pandemic had abated.

She further suggested the reduction of border post operating times in order to allow staff to wrap up daily operations before dark.

Ms Ngwenya said many people arrived at the border in the late afternoon up to a few minutes before midnight which she said became stressful when people had to be moved to quarantine facilities.

Reduction of operating hours would afford public officers the chance to plan and arrange transport and accommodation well on time, she said.

Meanwhile, North East District DHMT coordinator Ms Rodah Phindela said since the decision to transfer people to lodges and hotels across the country was taken, her office had embarked on training of hotel staff on proper ways to handle people in quarantine District Rapid Response to Epidemic Committee.

She said the training had been extended to all officers in the frontline of the COVID-19 fight including social workers who provided counseling services to those in quarantine.

Ms Phindela said it was a relief that people were now quarantined in Francistown, which made it easier for them to consolidate resources and monitor the quarantined closely rather than previously when they were scattered in schools across the district.

She said health personnel continued to carry out routine screening for those quarantined to ensure they did not contract or spread any diseases while in quarantine.

The coordinator said those transferred to hotels in Letlhakane and Palapye had been handed to DHMTs in the districts for close monitoring.

Ms Phindela said North East District supermarkets and shopping outlets workers had been trained on precautions and measures to take to ensure customer safety.

She expressed satisfaction with the response from shopping outlets, government and private companies who had complied with preventative measures such as washing of hands, sanitizing and controlling customer numbers.

Source : BOPA

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