The Lesotho Revenue Authority (LRA) has appealed to Lesotho traders to comply with the Republic of South Africa (RSA) lockdown regulations to enable smooth trading between the two countries even during this difficult time of COVID-19 pandemic.
LRA Public Relations Manager, Mr. Pheello Mphana said this in an interview with Lesotho Today following decision by RSA border authority at Maseru Bridge to impose strict measures on movement to cross to South Africa in the last few weeks.
Mr. Mphana said RSA border authority said the arrangement was due to the abuse of procedures by some of Basotho who cross to RSA pretending to be traders.
“RSA complains about Basotho who pose as traders in order to go shopping in RSA in violation of lockdown level 3 restrictions,” he said.
Mr. Mphana said the matter resulted in a backlash that led to some trucks being barred from crossing the Maseru Bridge, saying the decision affected business in Lesotho hence LRA took an initiative to discuss the issue with RSA border authority who eventually agreed to relax movement under strict conditions.
The conditions include that: Only registered logistics companies and essential services providers with business documents will be allowed to cross the borders, secondly, unregistered traders must produce importer/exporter permits as well as business documents corresponding with the permits.
On the same token, the Public Relation Officer in the Ministry of Trade and Industry, Ms Lihaelo Nkaota reiterated that the Ministry has taken serious measures to ensure that traders and companies comply with RSA lockdown regulations.
She stressed that the role of the ministry is to sustain business in the country and to keep business relations between countries on a sustainable optimum.
“It is true that COVID-19 has affected the economy and business sector but traders still need to comply with their business permits regulations,” she stressed.
Ms Nkaota appealed to traders not to abuse the opportunity that RSA has offered, noting that most of the products are imported hence Lesotho will be at risk if RSA continues closing borders.
On the other hand, Mr Mosiuoa Mputsoe of fruits and vegetables importer said that COVID -19 has affected the business because of the travel ban across borders.
He said conditions at the borders are a process and time consuming, adding that it takes time to purchase hence sometimes business run out of stock.
However, Mr Mputsoe appealed to traders to comply and follow the rules that RSA has specified.
Though RSA has eased lockdown restrictions to level three, borders are still closed.
Since April 2020, border movement has been restricted to movement of trucks transporting essential goods like food, fuel and medicine with the aim to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Source: Lesotho Today By ‘Malefu Pentše