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Botswana-SA Cross-Border Travel Declines

TSAONE BASIMANEBOTLHE
Fewer people are using Botswana's points of entry like Ramatlabama Boarder Post PIC: MORERI SEJAKGOMO
The number of people travelling between Botswana and South Africa (SA) has gone down, but there is still a significant movement out of the country.

This is despite the government having issued warnings that Batswana should minimise their travels to countries that are highly affected by coronavirus (COVID-19). SA is one such country with 240 reported cases by the weekend.

Coronavirus is spread through aerosol droplets that infect one from either a cough or sneeze, or makes contact with a contaminated surface. Its symptoms are high fever, cough, fatigue, headache and difficulty in breathing. Just on Friday, the Tlokweng border gate registered 1,126 people who were crossing to SA and 1,829 coming into Botswana. “Tlokweng border is one of the busiest borders and our assessment and figures show that the numbers of arrivals and departures have gone down drastically due to the outbreak of coronavirus. Out of 2,955 arrivals and departures, 1,539 people were Batswana, which is 52%,” immigration administrator, Emmanuel Lephirimile said.

“The number is still high and as immigration officers we cannot block or ban anyone from going to South Africa. The other

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problem is that Batswana and South Africans are related therefore some people were attending funerals and weddings.” He added on Saturday morning they were able to assist 918 people of whom 527 were departures and 391 arrivals.

“Out of 527 departures 222 were Batswana while from 391 arrivals, 152 were Batswana.  The problem is that our local buses are still operating as usual and going to SA. That on its own encourages people to go to SA,” he said.

Lephirimile said truck drivers receive the usual screening like other travellers.

Tlokweng border Port Health officer, Obakeng Kgosiethata said they monitor the truck drivers through their daily monitoring tool for arrivals from coronavirus affected countries and they go through screening.

At Ramatlabama border chief immigration officer, Flora Mabona said they registered 830 arrivals and 688 departures.

“Out of 830 arrivals, 390 were Batswana and 688 departures, 458 were Batswana. We also registered 346 South Africans who arrived and 195 departures,” Mabona said.



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