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Returnees stuck in Beitbridge

by Staff reporter
10 May 2020 at 08:22hrs | Views
AN acute shortage of buses has hampered the fast movement of Zimbabweans repatriated from South Africa with some of the returnees stuck in Beitbridge for the past two days despite having completed formalities to travel to provincial quarantine centres.

Last week 527 border jumpers ejected from South Africa, but arrived at the border post aboard nine buses were yet to be taken to their provinces.

Junior government officials at the Beitbridge quarantine centre said buses were delaying the movement of the deportees, some of whom looked dejected and weary.

"Buses are not readily available and this is the cause of delay. These people are weary and children are restless.

"There are no sleeping facilities," said one civil servant on condition of anonymity.

"We also do not have enough food for the crowds and something must be done fast."

Zimbabwe expects more returnees from South Africa and there is need to beef up staff, increase food supplies and deploy more buses, officials said.

"They can contract more buses from private operators because Zupco is failing to cope," added the civil servant.

As part of the national lockdown to arrest the spread of the novel coronavirus, government banned all private buses from operating.

It despatched its subsidised Zupco fleet and Zupco is understood to have released long distance buses from its southern region headquartered in Bulawayo, but these were failing to cope.

Another source at the centre said there was less synchronisation on release of buses and each time police officers were not readily available to escort the buses.

When our news crew arrived at the centre yesterday evening, social welfare staff were looking for police to escort returnees who arrived on Friday.

Totamirepi Tirivavi, director of the department of social welfare, told journalists yesterday that more buses would be availed to transport the returnees. Meanwhile, the government says it is decongesting the Beitbridge quarantine centre at the National Social Security Authority building and would open another Matabeleland South quarantine centre at

Umzingwane High School in Esigodini. Matabeleland South provincial welfare officer Crisswell Nyakudya told journalists on Friday that Beitbridge would remain with 150 people while others would be moved to the new quarantine centre. "The decision has already been made and we will be implementing it. Some of the people, who should have been kept at Beitbridge will now be quarantined at Mzingwane High School," Nyakudya said.

Beitbridge has a capacity of 260 people but due to other constraints that include food shortages and possibly security concerns, the number would be reduced, he said.

Zimbabwe expects thousands of its citizens who over the years sought economic and political refuge in South Africa but are now being forced back by Covid-19-induced job losses and worldwide uncertainty.

Police and the army have been roped in to provide security at the quarantine centre, which has also been turned into a reception centre for the returnees.

Nyakudya said five buses departed Beitbridge for Bulawayo, Gweru, Masvingo, Chinhoyi and Matare with returnees escorted by police to ensure they complied with quarantine requirements.

Source - the standard

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