Additional staff deployed at borders… Authorities ready for festive season traffic

Source: Additional staff deployed at borders… Authorities ready for festive season traffic | Sunday News (local news)

Robin Muchetu and Thupeyo Muleya, Senior Reporters
WITH the anticipated huge volume of human and vehicular traffic this festive season in the aftermath of the last two years of Covid-19 travel restrictions, the country’s border authorities say they have deployed adequate personnel and material resources at all the country’s ports of entry and exit.

In a statement on Friday, the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (Zimra) said more human resources have been deployed to Beitbridge and Plumtree which are usually the busiest inland ports of entry during peak periods and major holidays.

It is estimated that Beitbridge and Plumtree handle over seven million and three million travellers annually.

Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (Zimra).

“We have put in place measures at all our border posts to efficiently manage the seasonal influx of travellers and traffic over the festive season,” said Zimra.

“Traditionally, traffic increases at Beitbridge and Plumtree border posts between mid-December and the first week of January. This consists mainly of private travellers being Zimbabweans visiting their families, visitors coming to visit friends or relatives, tourists on holiday and other nationals transiting to destinations beyond our borders, all using either private or public transport.”

Zimra said some of the measures put in place include the deployment of relief staff to busy border posts by mid-December and the reassignment of senior staff to specified ports of entry to assist with the expected traffic surge.

In addition to increased staffing levels at high traffic ports, the organisation said it would be opening additional work stations which have already been set up, especially at the Beitbridge Border Post to provide additional service points for the clearance of travellers.

Information Communication Technology

More ICT hardware, including computers, printers, Wire Fidelity (Wi-Fi) gadgets have also been deployed to resource additional service points and boost internet connectivity.

“On the software front, the electronic Temporary Import Permits (e-TIP)) application has been enhanced to ensure that the motoring foreign travellers can easily log on and complete their applications prior to their arrival at the port, thus minimising dwell time at the border.

“Furthermore, the two borders close to Plumtree – Mphoengs and Maitengwe – have also been duly capacitated to receive significant private traffic in an effort to reduce the load on the Plumtree Border Post. Travellers can thus make a choice on which of these ports of entry is closest to their location and plan accordingly,” said Zimra.

Zimborders Consortium chief executive officer, Mr Francois Diedrechsen

By the end of the day yesterday, traffic had gradually peaked at the Beitbridge Border Post but the situation was still under control.
Zimborders Consortium chief executive officer, Mr Francois Diedrechsen said they were working with other border agencies to ensure a flawless flow of traffic between mid-December and first week of January.

The consortium is transforming the border post at a cost of US$300 million under a Private-Public Partnership (PPP) with the Government as part of a 17 and half years Built Operate and Transfer (BOT) concession.

Traffic has been separated into three terminals to handle freight, buses and private cars and pedestrians unlike the previous set up where all the traffic was being cleared in one hall.
Meanwhile, the Government has reiterated the need for travellers to be wary of Covid-19 saying the visitors would be subjected to an on-site Covid-19 test if they cannot produce a vaccination card with all three jabs.

The Chief Coordinator for the National Response to the Covid-19 Pandemic in the Office of the President and Cabinet, Dr Agnes Mahomva, said protocols remain in place and travellers should be fully vaccinated.

Dr Agnes Mahomva

“As Government we continue to strengthen our responses, we are very aware that as we go into the festive season a lot of visitors and returning residents are coming for holidays and visiting, so quite clearly some of those measures mean that we have to strengthen how we are responding at our ports of entry.

“That still remains the latest Statutory Instrument-vaccination at ports of entry. The SI specifically states that one must be fully vaccinated, as well you do have to be tested if you are entering the country, it has not changed at all,” said Dr Mahomva.

She said in an effort to ensure that travellers were safe during the festive season where there are large volumes of people, Port Health officers have also increased their controls at ports of entry.
“Port Health officers and teams are working flat out to strengthen the flow of clients as they come back into the country to ensure that people are not crowded in one place, are cleared fast enough and are supported and helped in whatever help they need. It is really important,” said Dr Mahomva.


In addition, Dr Mahomva said the Government continues to push for full vaccination.
“Everybody is aware, if you are fully vaccinated, your chances of getting severely ill and actually dying from Covid-19 are actually less so we are saying to everyone who is out there and has not been vaccinated, please go ahead and get vaccinated, it is for your protection, it is not about just adhering to Government rules but for your protection,” she said.

Dr Mahomva said the rest of the Covid-19 protocols remain the same throughout the country where people have to continue face masking, sanitising and hand washing.

“Wearing masks is still very much on. I know everybody is talking about other countries stopping and so on. We have never been guided by what other countries do, we are guided by the science that we know protects our citizens and we encourage masking up during this festive season. We know people gather celebrating and this is where Covid-19 transmission is very high. So, people must protect themselves even in public transport,” she said.

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