The Sunday Mail
Southern African Development Community (Sadc) countries have agreed to only allow movement of critically important goods and services between regional borders during the Covid-19 pandemic, under new guidelines adopted last week.
A Sadc Council of Ministers meeting convened, virtually, last week adopted the Guidelines for Harmonising and Facilitating Movement of Critical Goods and Services across the region during the Covid-19 high-risk period.
According to the regulations, during the Covid-19 pandemic, Sadc categorised a set of seven essential goods and services to be permitted across regional borders.
The bloc has also agreed to suspend all inter-state mass movement of people in buses and mini-buses, except where exemptions are provided.
“Only trucks/vehicles with cargo, goods and services including food, medical equipment and medicines, including medical supplies and personal protection equipment, fuel, including coal, agricultural inputs and supplies, chemicals, packaging, equipment, spares, maintenance materials and ancillary products used in the production and processing of food products, security, emergency and humanitarian relief services will be allowed to operate in inter-state operations in order to ensure continuity of supply chains,” reads the new guidelines in part.
“Other goods and products may be agreed among and between member states.”
The adopted guidelines are aimed at limiting the spread of coronavirus through transport movement across borders, while facilitating the implementation of transport-related national Covid-19 measures.
In terms of the regulations, all member states should establish a National Transport and Trade Facilitation Committee (NTTFC) to coordinate the implementation of the new guidelines.
The NTTFCs will also facilitate the resolution of operational problems arising from implementation of the regulations at ports of entry. Regional countries are being asked to enforce pre-clearance of goods in order to reduce face-to-face interactions with border personnel, while creating online platforms to clear imports and exports, application, issuance and renewals of licences and permits, registration of drivers, operators, vehicles and cargo.
“Inter-state mass movement of persons by buses/minibuses or other vehicles to be suspended for defined periods except for the following exemptions to be granted against Special Cross Border Permits mutually agreed and recognised between the country of origin, country of destination and country/ies of transit.
Cross-border travellers are now required to complete travel history questionnaires to ascertain whether they have been to high- risk countries.
For rail and air travel, individual states are required to consult bilaterally, the Sadc guidelines further provide.