Sydney Mubaiwa Masvingo Correspondent
Cross-border truck drivers who stop at truck inns and business centres to rest are making Zimbabwe more vulnerable to Covid-19, a legislator has warned, as he seeks new rules that would force the drivers to practice social distancing.
The truck drivers have often been accused of picking up sex workers at such spots, a practice likely to worsen the spread of Covid-19.
Chivi Central Member of Parliament Ephraim Gwanongodza made the remarks while making a contribution during a recent visit to Chivi District Hospital by members of the Masvingo provincial Covid-19 taskforce led by Masvingo provincial Affairs Minister Ezra Chadzamira.
“There might be no business during the day at business centres like Chibi Turn-Off and other areas along the Harare-Beitbridge Highway, but truck drivers from South Africa still park there in their numbers,” he said.
“In the surrounding villages, for example at Chibi Turn-Off, there are women who like to entertain the truck drivers, and there is a lot of contact that happens that makes social distancing impossible.
“We discussed the issue with the local councillor and it is our request that trucks should be banned from parking at these places because it’s putting our province and the nation at serious risk.”
In his presentation, Minister Chadzamira said Government was worried about non-compliant behaviour.
“We have noted with concern that some citizens continue to struggle with practising social distancing,” he said. “Government urges each and everyone of us to remind the next person the need to maintain social distancing and other preventative behaviour.
“We have to be each other’s keeper in order to beat this invisible enemy, coronavirus.”
Minister Chadzamira said truck drivers should abide by the social distancing rules, while at the same time abstaining from hiring sex workers at business centres and truck inns along the highway as these were potential coronavirus hotspots.
Officer Commanding Zimbabwe Republic Police Masvingo Province, Assistant Commissioner Taoneyi Nyazema, urged the public to observe the social distancing rule and avoid moving around aimlessly.
“Police have observed aimless movements by motorists, with some claiming to be looking for fuel or shopping for basic commodities,” he said.
“We are going to increase operations and patrols at night, especially at such truck inns and business centres along the Harare-Masvingo Highway as efforts to combat the Covid-19 pandemic. Those found without justification of being outside will be arrested and prosecuted.
“Members of the public who are queuing for basic commodities should do so in an orderly manner in line with guidelines provided by Government.”