Stranded Zimbabweans in SA offered self-funded transport to return home

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By Staff Reporter

THOUSANDS of Zimbabweans holed up in South Africa will have to pay R600 each for their own trip back home after being offered bus services three times a week to repatriate them up to Beitbridge border post.

This comes after the Zimbabwean Consulate in the neighbouring country has made arrangements with a local bus company to help them return home.

The citizens found themselves stranded in South Africa weeks ago after the neighbouring country imposed a lockdown to try and limit the spread of Covid-19.

Their situation became worse when Zimbabwe also imposed its own lockdown, making the two countries’ borders impassable with public transport also not available.

In a statement Saturday, the Consulate said the programme will assist only those who have expressed interest in self-funded repatriation.

This means those willing to return home but without adequate funds will have to wait a bit longer for an assisted programme.

“Please be informed that Eagle Liner/Inter City Express bus company has been engaged as one of the transport service provider tasked with the responsibilities to transport Zimbabweans from Johannesburg/Pretoria to quarantine centres,” reads the statement from the Consulate.

Under the agreement, the bus company will offer transportation service from Johannesburg/Pretoria to quarantine centres in Beitbridge, Zimbabwe.

The service will be demand driven and offered weekly on Monday, Wednesday and Friday.

“The actual departure dates will depend on the granting of necessary authorisation from Department of International Relations and Cooperation South Africa (DIRCO).

“However, May 6, is the envisioned date of departure for the first trip,” said the Consulate.

The pick-up points in Johannesburg will be Lenasia, Starbus and Park Station while in Pretoria, returnees will be picked at Bosman station.

“It is important to adhere to the lockdown restrictions on gatherings as set by South African government,” said the Consulate.

The buses’ carrying capacity will be limited to 70% in order to comply with the South African lockdown regulations for public transport.

All prospective passengers were encouraged to have travel documents before paying for their trips.

“Those without should urgently contact Consulate to apply for a temporary travel document before booking,” said the Consulate.

It also said consultations with other bus operators were ongoing with a view to entering into similar arrangements not only for Gauteng, but for other provinces as well.

The Consulate also said all returning residents will be subjected to a 21-day mandatory quarantine at designated centres in Beitbridge upon crossing into Zimbabwe at government cost.

“Separate announcements regarding assisted repatriation will be made through the usual channels once the process has been finalised,” said the Consulate.