#COVID-19: Zim Cargo Truck Drivers Demand Risk Allowance and Health Insurance From Gvt

THE National Union of Transport Workers of Zimbabwe (NUTWZ) has written to government demanding payment of risk allowances and the setting up of  a special health insurance arrangement for truck drivers ferrying cargo to and from Zimbabwe during the COVID-19 induced national Lockdown period.

By Michael Gwarisa

In a letter addressed to the The Chairperson Covid19 Taskforce in the Office Of The President and Cabinet, NUTWZ, Mr N Gwande said even though the  union appreciates the unenviable work being done by the taskforce to manage the covid19 virus, there was need to hedge the drivers against potential  health risks caused by the COVID-19.

The recently published regulations which require drivers to scrupulously observe the prescribed public health management procedures as they continue with their duties underscores the previously undervalued role of drivers in the national economy.

“Equally, therefore, the taskforce should also order the payment of a special danger allowance to drivers and also  setting up of a special occupational safety and health insurance to cover their families in the event of infection. This additional cost of operation can be financed through the WHO faculty or fund. Drivers are front line personnel and are especially vulnerable due to reduced immunity usually associated with fatigue and lack of sufficient sleep or rest,” said Mr Gwande.

Meanwhile, government has made it mandatory for cross-border truck drivers to have functional thermometers, face masks and hand sanitisers as it intensifies measures to fight Covid-19.

The new regulations governing drivers of essential cargo trucks are contained in Statutory Instrument 93 of 2020 released on Sunday. They bar drivers from leaving their trucks anywhere in transit except at border posts, truck stops and their destinations.

According to the SI, goods vehicles in transit engaged in an essential service must have a thermometer for measuring body temperature, sufficient face masks for the driver and any member of the crew, sufficient hand sanitising fluid or disinfectant, and at least one receptacle for dispensing fluids or disinfectants.

The SI states a driver must submit to being sanitised or disinfected in the manner required by an enforcement officer at the border post. Drivers who will be stopping in the country for more than 24hrs will be quarantined at designated facilities for the duration of their stay while aircraft in transit must leave the country within 10 hours of arrival.

If the driver or any member of the crew requires food or other basic necessities, the driver or crew member must not disembark from the vehicle but must get the items through attendants at border posts or designated truck stops.

“In the case of drivers of cross border goods vehicles, enforcement officers at the border or designated truck stop where the goods are offloaded must disinfect the goods and the premises at which they are offloaded as soon as possible after the offloading, every driver and every member of the crew of a transit goods vehicle or cross-border goods vehicle requiring to remain in Zimbabwe for a period in excess of 24 hours must proceed to and remain at a place of quarantine at the border post, designated truck stop or other place designated by an enforcement officer until departure (or if any such member is infected with Covid-19, a place of isolation), every driver and every member of the crew of a transit goods vehicle or cross-border goods vehicle who, being a citizen or resident of Zimbabwe, returns to Zimbabwe upon delivery of the goods in question, shall be treated as a returning citizen or resident for the purposes,” reads part of the SI.

According to Section 8 of the SI, every aircraft must depart within 10 hours of arrival.

If it becomes necessary for any member of the crew of such aircraft to stay overnight, every such member shall proceed to and remain at a place of quarantine at the airport or aerodrome until departure.

“Every member of the crew of such aircraft not on overnight stopover must remain on board the aircraft until its departure, but if it is necessary for any of them to disembark, the crew member must submit to being sanitised or disinfected in the manner required by an enforcement officer immediately on disembarkation, wear a face mask, and not associate with any other persons than (subject to the social distancing rule) members of the relevant airport or aerodrome services staff,” reads part of the SI.

A red flag had been raised over cross-border truck drivers passing through the country from South Africa due to the threat of Covid-19.

Addressing Government officials and service chiefs during a district taskforce meeting at Esigodini District Hospital recenlty, the provincial administrator Ms Sithandiwe Ncube said there is need for constant screening of the drivers at the stoppage sites.

Although Zimra announced at the start of the first three-week lockdown that streamlined processes at Beitbridge for clearing cargo shipments that rely on high level compliance and minimum human contact will be in place, Ms Ncube said the stopping of the cross-border truck drivers at truck inns and towns to rest was aggravating the country’s vulnerability to Covid-19.






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