While Botswana has done well to limit the movement of people and consumption of alcohol in a bid to control the spread of coronavirus, MmegiOnline has discovered that cross-border truckers are responsible for ‘unlawfully’ bringing alcohol in the country.
FRANCISTOWN: In many parts of the world especially African countries, which are not self-sufficient in food production, truckers have been given permission to ferry goods, medical supplies and other essential items between countries to avert potential hunger and medical crises in the midst of the coronavirus.
Locally, the government has on countless occasions boldly stated that measures have been put in place to make sure that truckers from various SADC countries transporting various essential goods into the country or en route to other countries do not spread virus in the country.
The move to leave essential goods to pass between the borders of the sisterly countries was agreed by the SADC heads of States.
Despite the good intentions of the Presidents of SADC, the move has some inherent inevitable repercussions.
It is a well-known fact that in some cases prostitution is rife at areas where long distance truck drivers from within and outside Botswana rest and sleep while still in transit.
The Kazungula border post and other places along the A1 road in Botswana are a good point of reference.
At these places, there is a high risk that HIV/AIDS will spread easily following the exchange of cash for sex.
Taking into account the example stated above, it can also be concluded that Batswana can easily contract the coronavirus by intermingling with foreign truckers in various ways-during sex or at shopping complexes since in some instances measures put in place by health officials are not followed to the letter.
A Ugandan publication, Daily Nation, recently reported that the country’s health ministry confirmed four more COVID-19 cases in the country after four Tanzanian cargo truck drivers tested positive for the virus.
The Uganda and Tanzania cases are not different from what may happen in Botswana despite Botswana having put in place strict measures to control the spread of imported coronavirus cases.
Despite the measures, MmegiOnline investigations have found that the move to allow essential transportation of goods between SADC states may boomerang just like in East African Community (EAC) states because of some truckers.
In other words, the move to allow the movement of essential goods within
MmegiOnline has uncovered that some truck drivers are responsible for the proliferation of alcohol especially whiskeys such as Two Keys, Jack Daniels and other liquor brands from Zambia and Zimbabwe.
This is despite the fact that just like in Botswana, the sale of alcohol in Zambia and Zimbabwe has been put on a moratorium to stem the spread of coronavirus, which has ravaged many SADC countries.
MmegiOnline also found that there is a very active underground sale of liquor in many neighbourhoods of Francistown, which has resulted in the prices of these types of alcohol to skyrocket.
For example, a 750 ml bottle of Jack Daniel’s Gentleman Jack Whiskey and Two Keys that used to sell for around P290 and P85 now sold for P450 and P300 respectively in the black market.
Meanwhile, the Public Relations Officer of Botswana Police Service Assistant Commissioner Dipheko Motube was constrained to give a comment about the issue because he was in a meeting for the better part of Wednesday afternoon.
However, Motube referred MmegiOnline to the Officer Commanding Number 15 District Senior Superintendent Kabo Badirwang.
Badirwang’s policing district covers Central police station in Francistown, Masunga, Tutume, Nata, Sowa Town and Tshesebe up to the border village of Ramokgwebana.
He said the police were not aware that some truckers who transport essential goods between SADC countries were also fuelling the underground system of sneaking alcohol into the country.
“A case of this nature involving cross-border truck drivers has never been recorded in my policing district. In my policing district just like many throughout the country, the police mainly arrest people for selling traditional brews,” said Badirwang.
He added: “We are not aware of this issue because we trusted truck drivers to transport cargo that is only essential during this era of coronavirus. Be that as it may, this enjoins us to thoroughly search all trucks entering the country to make sure that they only bring essential goods in the country as expected. If we fail to do so, it will defeat government’s efforts to control the spread of coronavirus in the country.”