More than 80 trucks coming from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) going to South Africa are currently stranded at Kazungula Border on the Zambian side because authorities from Botswana side are allegedly not allowing them to enter their country due to fears of the Ebola virus.
The trucks, which are mainly carrying copper from DRC, have not been allowed to cross to Botswana since Monday this week when news broke out that DRC had cases of the Ebola virus.
A truck driver working for Global Marketers of South Africa, Anthony Abel, said drivers coming from DRC were not allowed to pass through Botswana regardless of their nationality as South Africans.
Mr Abel, who spoke on behalf of several other stranded drivers, told journalists at Kazungula border on Tuesday afternoon that more than 80 trucks were stuck because of Ebola fears on the Botswana side.
“All truck drivers coming from Zambia are allowed to pass through Botswana but those of us coming from DRC are not allowed to cross.
We don’t know how long this will take. I loaded copper from Congo on my way to South Africa. The problem is not on the Zambian side but on the Botswana side,” he said.
Mr Abel, whose company has five trucks which are stranded at Kazungula border, said most drivers were South African nationals and he wondered why they were treated like Congolese nationals.
Meanwhile the Zambian Government has expressed worry at the reported 24 cases of the Ebola virus that have been so far recorded in neighboring Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
Health Deputy Minister Chitalu Chilufya said government’s worry is in view of the fact that Zambia shares the same boarders DRC.
Speaking when he received a donation of Ebola preparedness supplies from World Health Organization (WHO) in Lusaka today, Dr. Chilufya said government will however strengthen surveillance system at Kasumbalesa boarder post to prevent any possible outbreak of the deadly virus in the country.
Dr. Chilufya says the Zambian government is also aware that Ebola has now become Africa’s huge health threat which requires concerted efforts and stronger partnerships among countries in combating the incurable virus.
He said it is for this reason that government has deployed health workers in different entry points of the country in a bid to prevent the outbreak of the virus.
The Health Deputy Minister has also emphasized that government has not banned movements of people from Ebola affected countries.
Speaking at the same event, World Health Organization (WHO) Country Representative Jean Marie Dangou said the latest statistics on Ebola indicate that a total of 240 health workers have developed the disease in the four countries and 120 have since died.
Dr. Dangou noted that though there is no case of Ebola virus in Zambia, it is critical to put in place necessary preventive and response measures to protect the general populace and the health workers.
The US$50, 000 worthy supplies donated by WHO to government include: 290 complete PPE Kit, 24 Extra PPE Coveralls, 45 Extra PPE Trousers, 130 1.5 hand sprayers, 65 15 liters back sprayers, 500 face shields, 1, 000 Biohazard bags among others.