BY PRAISEMORE SITHOLE INFORMAL traders have warned that the failure by government to reduce COVID-19 testing fees would result in more travellers risking their lives and illegally crossing the borders as they cannot afford mandatory testing.
The cost of a single COVID-19 test in the private sector is US$60.
As a result of the high costs of COVID-19 tests, the Cross-Border Traders Association of Zimbabwe recently unveiled a US$35 COVID-19 testing model for its members to enable them to resume business activity after being rendered immobile for six months.
Bulawayo Vendors and Traders Association (BVTA) director Michael Ndiweni told NewsDay that the costs of COVID-19 tests had resulted in travellers resorting to border jumping.
“A lot of informal traders cannot afford that money. This has caused people to risk their lives crossing the crocodile-infested Limpopo River and going through undesignated sites while exposing themselves to mugging, rape and other things which risk their lives,” he said.
“How can you expect someone using the bus and someone using the aeroplane to pay the same amount for COVID-19 tests? This is unfair. We call on the government to reconsider this and also make certificates available in the centres as some are being scammed in attempting to get fake certificates.”
Recently, there were reports that smuggling of goods from South Africa had increased, with smugglers using donkey-drawn carts to transport goods across the border.
Some of the smugglers are said to be as young as 12 years, and operating from informal settlements.
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