Members of the South African transport operators temporarily blocked traffic going into the country via Beitbridge Border Post for six hours, accusing Zimbabwean cross border transporters of driving them out of business.
There are over 400 Zimbabwean cross border transport operators shuttling between Musina and Beitbridge daily. It costs R20 for a one-way trip from the border to Musina and R50 for a return journey to Beitbridge, Zimbabwe. Luggage is charged from R50 and above, depending on the type of goods.
Sources in South Africa said locals accused Zimbabwean nationals of pushing them out of business, especially those with pick-up trucks. South African police had to quell the potentially volatile situation.
It is understood that the South Africans are advocating for a set-up where they carry all goods and people from Musina. They will then offload at their side of the border, where the Zimbabweans would look for alternative transport.
“They were blocking traffic as early as 2am and had to be dispersed by the police at around 8am. “In some cases, Zimbabwean cross-border operators were being made to pay R300 as access fees to Musina.
“Those who failed to pay were being made to go back to Zimbabwe, ” said a source who declined to be named.
A group of people calling themselves Taxi Operators Association, have since Friday last week been circulating massages on social media that they will block all traffic going to Musina. They reportedly threatened to unleash violence on those who would resist their “project”.
A notice was issued which reads in part,”As from Monday no bakkie (pick-up trucks) or any car that does not have a permit to carry passengers and goods, is allowed to pass through the border taxi rank. All the goods will be collected by taxis with permits from Musina to border. We will be very glad for your cooperation”.
Limpopo police spokesperson Brigadier Motlafela Mojapelo said they did not get any report on the issue. “There is no such reported activity at the port of entry, ” he said.
Chairperson of the Zimbabwe Cross border operators, Takavingei Mahachi, said they had engaged their counterparts over the issue.
He said the association had 480 people though 234 were active. “We have agreed in principle that they carry the passengers from their side of the border to Musina, while we carry all the goods to Zimbabwe. However, the Border Taxi Operators Association has distanced itself from the earlier disturbances. They say that is being pushed by individuals who were not their affiliates. “We are looking at holding an all stakeholders’ meeting to iron out the issues,” said Mahachi.
Last year, another group of individuals, including businessmen from Musina blocked the border for four hours in protest over the implementation of Statutory Instrument 64, which removed specified goods from the Open General Import Licence (OGIL).
The same elements were also fingered to be part of a third hand which sponsored violent demonstrations in Beitbridge, which saw a roads being blocked, a state warehouse and other key infrastructure being razed down by fire.