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Rising COVID-19 Cases in SA Threaten Imports

South African boarder PIC: KENNEDY RAMOKONE
The Botswana Unified Revenue Service (BURS) over the weekend closed and then reopened three major road borders with South Africa at the request of authorities in that country, which is battling with a fresh outbreak of COVID-19.

Tlokweng, Pioneer and Ramatlabama, which reopened on Sunday after closing on Saturday, represent the busiest borders with South Africa.

The other major border post, Martin’s Drift, was unaffected but local officials said they were monitoring updates from their South African counterparts. On Saturday, BURS general manager Communications, Mable Bolele had told The Monitor there was no timeframe for when the borders would reopen.

“It’s not on our side; it’s SA that called to say they have COVID-19 scares and they will tell us when they open,” she said on Saturday. “On our side, we have to notify our travellers so that they don’t find themselves going all the way only to find the border closed.”

The temporary closure of the three borders meant other smaller crossing points such as Ramotswa, Phitsane Molopo,

Sikwane and Platjan had to be used more. The closure and reopening also triggered fears that the rising COVID-19 cases in South Africa are endangering imports from that country, which include economically critical commodities such as fuel. Imports from South Africa account for up to two thirds of Botswana’s annual import bill. Government has pledged to accelerate various policies to reduce the import bill, particularly as COVID-19 continues to expose the risks of over-reliance on imports.

South Africa is experiencing an upsurge in COVID-19 cases, with at least 5,000 being recorded per day since last week. The country had enjoyed a major drop in cases from the beginning of the year, but provinces have recently been reporting that they are now entering the “Third Wave” of the pandemic.


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