The Ebola scourge ravaging some African nations appears to be a blessing in disguise for Zimbabwe as Botswana has almost sealed its borders, forcing truckers to divert their routes to Zimbabwe, which is now racking in huge sums of money at border posts.
Some long distance truck drivers say the high volume of traffic currently going through the country, estimated at more than 300 trucks a day, is generating thousands of dollars for Zimbabwe.
Although the Department of Customs and Excise would not comment on this development, the drivers said they believe that Zimbabwe will receive millions of dollars within the next few months as Botswana is demanding that any driver crossing to the DRC should stay away from the country for almost two months.
This has forced hundreds of drivers to utilize the Kazungula-Beitbridge Corridor instead of passing through some Botswana border posts.
One of the truck drivers operating along the Lubumbashi-Johannesburg corridor, Jonathan Masuku, told Studio 7 this is set to boost the Zimbabwe economy.
“Imagine that almost 300 trucks are now passing through Zimbabwe each day instead of half that number. This is a big boost for the country even if it’s sad that some people are being killed by Ebola in some countries,” said Masuku.
His colleague, Hloka Moyo, adds that they are scared of the disease though people in DRC don’t seem to care much about the disease.
There was no immediate response from Botswana officials in Washington DC.
The Democratic Republic of Congo's health minister said recently two Ebola deaths have been confirmed in his country. The country has had numerous encounters with Ebola since it was first discovered in 1976.
The head of the World Health Organization says more and better-trained medical workers are needed in West Africa to stop the growing outbreak of Ebola.
Dr. Margaret Chan, told a news conference in Geneva on Friday, that the death toll from the outbreak has climbed past 2,400, with the total number of cases rising to 4,784.
She said officials trying to contain Ebola are short of almost everything, including protective gear, mobile laboratories and body bags, but that the biggest obstacle is a lack of trained health care workers.
"Money, materials are important but those alone could not stop the Ebola transmission… Human resources is most important, and especially the needs for compassionate doctors and nurses who will know how to comfort patients despite the barriers of wearing, you know, PPG suits and working in very demanding conditions," Chan said.
The WHO said this week that Ebola has killed nearly 80 health care workers in Liberia, the country hardest hit by the disease.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control has also sent staff to help fight the outbreak, and the U.S. Agency for International Development is seeking qualified medical professionals to go to the region. Volunteers can submit applications at the agency's website, www.usaid.gov.
STRONGER RESPONSE NEEDED
U.N. officials including Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon have warned that a stronger response is needed to contain Ebola, a vicious disease that causes vomiting, diarrhea and bleeding eyes, ears and other body openings.
U.S. government contributions toward fighting the outbreak have topped $100 million, while the private Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation this week pledged $50 million to purchase supplies and speed up development of potential therapies.
Liberia has become the epicenter of the outbreak, accounting for about half of all cases and deaths. The WHO said this week that "intense transmission" also continues in Guinea and Sierra Leone.