Zambia, which closed its border with Tanzania to stem the spread of coronavirus, could reach an agreement with its neighbour over passage of cargo trucks carrying copper and crucial goods, a provincial minister said.
President Edgar Lungu ordered the closure after the border town Nakonde recorded 76 cases of COVID-19, the highest number registered by Africa’s number two copper producer in a single day.
The border was closed to cargo, but on Wednesday talks on allowing trucks to move again were underway.
“Movement of cargo will commence as soon as we conclude negotiations with our counterparts,” Muchinga Province Minister Malozo Sichone told Reuters.
Sichone previously said priority would be given to trucks bringing essential goods such as fuel, medical supplies and food to Zambia.
“By today we could conclude,” Sichone said on Wednesday.
A logistics official said the border was only expected to reopen for metal exports at the weekend.
A second logistics company manager said the closure was having a “big impact” on the flow of trucks carrying copper from Zambian and Congolese mines to Dar es Salaam port.
“Customers are halting loading material onto trucks headed to Dar es Salaam until there is clarity,” he said.
Tanzania confirmed 509 cases of coronavirus, with 21 deaths as of Tuesday, according to the World Health Organisation. Government has been criticised for not providing regular updates on the outbreak and the opposition accuses it of being secretive.