The Zimbabwe Cross Borders Association (ZCBTA) has raised the red flag over the increasing use of illegal crossing points to neighboring countries by cross borders traders.
ZCBTA secretary general, Augustine Tawanda said this has a potential to worsen the rapid increase in the Covid-19 infections ravaging communities across the country.
"Given that cross border trading sustains more than 300 000 households in Zimbabwe, the association is worried by Government's delay to respond to proposals it presented earlier to mitigate the situation because any further delay will further plunge the country into a serious catastrophe given our already overwhelmed and ailing health delivery system.
"While we are alive to the challenges that will result in the wholesale opening of our borders without due regard to the precautionary measures against the continued spread of Covid-19, we call for an urgent introspection by all stakeholders in finding sustainable and practical solutions to address these inter-twined challenges now faced by these desperate and restless cross border traders who are caught between a rock and a hard place," said Tawanda.
Sadly, the government has previously conceded failure to monitor illegal entry-points owing to resource constraints.
Whilst acknowledging the setbacks suffered by traders following the closure of the borders in March, Tawanda said use of illegal entry points is putting traders at greater risk of contracting Covid-19.
"This development is without doubt putting the traders at risk of contracting and spreading Covid-19 which has seen figures surging mostly in Harare and Bulawayo. These illegal activities are happening mostly along the Limpopo River into South Africa as desperate traders are risking their lives in search of a livelihood." he said.
In light of this, Tawanda said they are ready to work with all relevant stakeholders as they explore ways of addressing the challenges faced by the cross border traders constituency.