Queues of trucks traveling to Mozambique from South Africa stretch back about 7 kilometres and twice that distance on the other side of the frontier, said Mike Fitzmaurice, chief executive officer of the Federation of East and Southern African Road Transport Associations. About 80% of the cargo handled by South African haulers crossing at Lebombo is chrome, he said in response to questions on Thursday.
The delays are being caused by Covid-19 testing on the South African side of the border, resulting in “massive congestion,” Fitzmaurice said in a statement. A shortage of manpower is exacerbating the situation and a number of staff from the Department of Home Affairs and Port Health Services have been infected by the virus over recent weeks, he said.
South Africa accounted for about 78% of primary chrome-ore world supply in 2019, including chrome produced as a byproduct of platinum-group metals, according to the Minerals Council of South Africa. The metal is used as a feedstock in the production of stainless steel.
South Africa has introduced a series of measures to control the spread of Covid-19, including a 9 p.m.-6 a.m. nationwide curfew. The number of people infected with the disease rose by a record 21,832 cases on Thursday, with 844 deaths bring the total toll to 31,368.
Lebombo, which serves as a conduit to the port of Maputo in Mozambique’s capital, is South Africa’s second-busiest land-border crossing, according to Fitzmaurice. There’s similar congestion at Beitbridge on the border with Zimbabwe, where hundreds of trucks are being forced to queue because of Covid-19 protocols.
© 2021 Bloomberg L.P.