Road Transport Operators Association says the chaos at Beitbridge Border in Zimbabwe where trucks are taking up to five days to be cleared is costly for businesses and transporters.
The association’s executive member Byson Mpando said in an interview on Monday that a majority of transporters are stuck on their way to deliver goods in South Africa and Malawi.
He said the situation is costly for transporters who carry a wide range of goods from South Africa, including foodstuffs, building materials and motor vehicle spare parts.
Said Mpando: “Due to the delays to transport goods in time, the impact on business is that we will incur extra costs in terms of upkeep for drivers.
“Our drivers have also been victims of theft that became rampant over the past few days in the process losing money and other valuables.”
The congestion, according to Business Day, a South African newspaper comes as one toll company Zimborders Consortium, which has been awarded a contract by the Zimbabwean government to upgrade the border post, began collecting toll fees.
The company, which is tasked with running the border facilities, was granted a $300 million (K246 billion) contract to build new terminal buildings for trucks, buses and light motor vehicles.
Following this, the commercial section of the upgraded border was opened recently, but its electronic system is facing hitches, resulting in a logistical nightmare.
Mpando further said in case of costs, businesses are also losing a lot of money as they have resorted to take longer and unsafe routes to avoid the long queues.
He, however, said it would be difficult to quantify in monetary terms how much the transporters have lost, but was hopeful that the problem would ease soon.
Cross-border Traders Association of Malawi president Steve Yohane said the delays have impacted the whole business process.
He said: “Small businesses have lost business due to delays and, at the moment, business is not conducive,” he said.
In a written response on Monday, Ministry of Trade spokesperson Mayeso Msokera said the ministry is monitoring the situation.
He said: “This is one of the most important road routes through which the country exports and imports goods, particularly from South Africa.
“Therefore, any persistent delays to cargo shipments can disrupt the supply of goods, especially assorted groceries from South Africa and movement of trucks with transit goods.”
Countries in the Southern African Development Community, including Mozambique and South Africa, which is Malawi’s key trade partner, rely on Beitbridge for their imports and exports