The CA Sales truck driver who imported the coronavirus into Botswana from South Africa was a disaster waiting to happen and is the outcome of a widespread breach of World Health Organisation (WHO) COVID-19 safety protocols by truckers transporting essential goods into Botswana – court records have revealed.
Scores of drivers employed by international freight transportation company, Unitrans Botswana have gone to court to challenge the legality of ferrying fuel from South Africa into Botswana without following World Health Organization (WHO) COVID-19 guidelines.
Gaborone was declared a high-risk area last week following the registered case of COVID-19 from the CA Sales truck driver ferrying goods from South Africa.
The court papers filed by Unitrans Botswana drivers paint a picture of a transportation and logistics sector that is not in any state of readiness to deal with the COVID-19 risks associated with their cross-border routine.
Representing more than 60 drivers, the lead applicant in the case, Goabaone Ramolelo castigated Unitrans Botswana for not complying with World Health Organization guidelines to fight the spread of the virus.
He said ever since the outbreak of the virus, the company has “not established clear precautionary measures for us as drivers as we continue to go to the neighbouring countries and back including South Africa and deliver same around Botswana.”
“My primary duties together with all the other applicants cited herein is to drive vehicles carrying fuel for the respondent has not established clear precautionary measures for us as drivers as we continue to go to the neighbouring countries and back including south Africa and deliver same around Botswana,” said Ramolelo.
He added that they continued to travel to South Africa “and when we get there are no precautionary measures in place to ensure that we are protected from the virus.”
“In fact, we are simply advised to self-quarantine by staying in the truck, something that is not practical because we must go out and relieve ourselves and in the process we get into contact with the outside world which is potentially virus infested.”
In addition, Ramolelo said their duty as truck drivers is that “we must load the truck and in the process we meet people from different countries which further puts our lives in danger.”
“When we come back to Botswana the only thing that is being done on us is to take our temperatures. We are then allowed go to our homes to meet our families with no proper precautionary measures from the respondent who is our employer,” said Ramolelo.
“The applicants (drivers) fear not only for their lives but that of their families and the nation at large. We fear that if the respondent (Unitrans Botswana) does not come up with proper precautionary measures to ensure our safety and safety of the entire nation is at stake,” read the court papers in part.
Replying, Unitrans Botswana argued that the drivers had failed to make a case for an interdict in that in terms of the section 46(I) (0) of the Trade Dispute Act, 2016, they are designated as essential services.
“Further in terms emergency powers (COVID19 regulations, 2020, SI No61 of 2020, the President has declared the applicants essential service to the period the covid19 may last,” the company argued in court papers.