Passing through GG Animal Disease Control Checkpoints from northern areas to the South:
I was passing through Mururani Gate on the way to Rundu recently, when I heard a commotion of people asking a veterinary official “why should I give over my meat to you?”
Although most Namibians travelling to and from northern areas are by now aware of the situation, there are so many queries from travelers especially the foreign tourists, on why it is necessary to have a veterinary check point in the first place, and which products/materials are allowed or not allowed to pass through from the northern areas to the South.
So, in this article, let’s tackle this issue and share information on the “why and what” of crossing the animal disease control points.
For a livestock and livestock products’ exporting country, animal disease surveillance is especially important for Namibia. One such surveillance strategy is to have animal disease control or veterinary checkpoints strategically situated across the country.
As part of animal disease control plan, the country was divided by the Veterinary Cordon Fence (VCF) or the controversial “Redline”, from east at the Botswana border, to the west of Palmwag Gate in the Namib Desert close to the Atlantic Ocean. The VCF separates the foot and mouth disease (FMD) Free zone from the rest of the country that is not officially recognized as free from the disease.
The fence acts as barrier to control movement of animals and animal products, which may potentially spread diseases such as FMD and lung sickness (CBPP). Along the VCF, we have strategic animal disease control checkpoints that are manned by veterinary officials. In order to strengthen the control measures, the police are also stationed at main veterinary checkpoints.
When traveling from Oshakati south to Tsumeb, the animal disease control checkpoint is at Oshivelo. Folk’s traveling from Ruacana Water falls may experience this one. From Nkurenkuru to Tsumeb you also have to pass through Tsinsabis. On the way from Opuwo there is the Werda Gate and the Mururani Gate is between Grootfontein and Rundu when crossing the VCF.
When you are passing through the veterinary checkpoint from the north, expect the veterinary official to stop and write down your registration number of your vehicle.
Your car might also be searched to make sure you are not carrying any potential infections materials or products. You will also be required to make a declaration that you are not carrying the stipulated potentially infectious materials.
Remember that a false declaration or statement with regards to carrying any infectious things is an offense punishable by law. It is better to voluntarily hand over any prohibited products which will be recorded, collected and destroyed under police supervision. It won’t help to take a chance and say that you were not aware about the restrictions; your prohibited products will be confiscated.
If for any reason, a driver refuses to stop or hand over prohibited materials, the veterinary official will write down all the details as much as possible about the driver and vehicle and immediately make a report at the police station. Pedestrian crossing is also regulated and people moving from areas north of VCF to the south must also make a declaration regarding what they may be carrying, and their luggage may be searched as well.
The following animals/infectious things may not under any circumstances be allowed to move southwards through the VCF:
• All cloven hoofed animals (animals with separated hooves like cattle, sheep, kudu) are restricted. However, the exception to this rule is that goats and sheep that went through quarantine and are transported in sealed vehicle from an official veterinary quarantine facility, accompanied by a valid veterinary Red Cross permit are allowed to pass through.
• Raw meat of cloven hoofed animals (whether for own consumption, padkos or souvenir) may not pass through. But raw meat from officially approved abattoirs that are in sealed containers, accompanied by a veterinary permit is allowed.
• Raw or fresh milk is also unfortunately prohibited. We sympathize with our northern communal farmers who wish to bring their hard earned fresh animal products from their homes to the cities, but for a meat producing country it is hazardous to take the risk of transmitting animal diseases to areas recognized as free.
Other things that may cross the animal health checkpoints with a veterinary permit include:
• Grass, hay, lucerne, bones, bone meal, wool, blood, manure. Skins, hides and trophies that undergo veterinary quarantine may also pass through. Wild animals without cloven hooves such as zebras, rhinos, elephants and wild carnivores do not pose risk of transmitting diseases of concern and are allowed to pass with a valid veterinary certificate.
The things that can pass through the VCF without any restrictions or a veterinary permit are:
• Dogs and cats don’t have restrictions. This is a common query that people ask veterinary services when they wish to transport their pets. In addition, animals such as horses, donkeys and mules can pass through without a problem.
• Live poultry and birds, eggs and raw meat as well as fish and fisheries products and worms can pass through.
• Luckily for the baskets weavers and woodcarvers, products such as wood carvings, mats and baskets and pottery can be transported and sold in areas south of VCF and exported elsewhere.
• Plant materials such as leafy vegetables including lettuce cabbage, spinach etc. as well as fruits (if free from manure) are free to pass the VCF from the north to the south.
For padkos, it is advisable to cook your meat and milk as long as it is for own consumption and in a small portion, you wouldn’t want to transport a whole carcass of a cow boiled then you say is for your padkos, mos. And milk is only allowed up to 5 liters that is boiled. At least omaere or sour milk and butter and cheese don have restrictions and can pass through.
As a final word, people should take note that to maintain the animal health status of our country in the Free Zone, while at the same time working towards gaining freedom from diseases that restrict export of our animal and animal products above the Redline, the VCF Gates are important to control the flow of restricted materials.
Thus, the regulations manning these gates should be adhered to.