ACTIONAID executive director Nalucha Ziba says government should not be under duress to unconditionally close down borders, but should instead limit non-essential travel while allowing movement of essential goods to contain the surge COVID-19 infections.

Responding to a press query, Ziba stated that as a land-linked country, Zambia heavily depended on imported goods and services, adding that closing borders was not the best option.

“With the increasing cases of the second wave of COVID-19 in Zambia, there have been calls from various stakeholders to close international borders to limit infections and contain the virus in the country. We are, hereby, sharing our views. ActionAid Zambia observes that management of national cross-borders has become a very complex socio-economic factor in containing COVID-19, hence the need to treat it as such. We note that Zambia is a land-linked country that depends heavily on imported goods and services, therefore, absolute closure of cross-borders may not be the best option. We, therefore, urge government to manage the cross-borders cautiously by limiting non-essential travel into the country, while allowing the movement of essential goods and services in and out of the country,” stated Ziba.

“We are of the considered view that an absolute closure of borders may not only trigger demand-supply pull inflation, but may also compromise the fiscal targets due to little or no transaction at the borders. This may result in unprecedented increase of goods and services, denial of citizens of essential goods and services that may be more significant in the wake of the same pandemic as well as compromising government’s abilities to provide goods and services due to limited resources. In managing the borders cautiously, government should step up its efforts in the control measures at the airports and border posts in line with the health guidelines. In addition, government should seek to categorise its major trade partners, according to the level of COVID-19 exposure risks, and devise the control measures accordingly. Finally, we want to re-emphasise the need to enhance the observation of COVID-19 public health guidelines not only at cross-borders, but in all our daily socio-economic as well as political activities.”