Border upgrades to help bolster service delivery

The Chronicle

Mashudu Netsianda, Senior Reporter

THE new-look Beitbridge Border Post, a world class facility commissioned by President Mnangagwa on Wednesday has brought with it a range of benefits for residents that will help bolster economic growth and service delivery in the border town. 

The US$300 million modernisation of the Beitbridge Border Post is in line with Vision 2030 of attaining an upper middle-income economy and is one of the key projects being undertaken by the Second Republic to promote the ease of doing business and trade facilitation.

The project has transformed the face of the border town and will boost investor confidence through improved road network, water supply, effective disaster and solid waste management in a more environmentally sustainable manner.

Besides the modernisation of the border post, other facilities under the project include a modern fire station, plant and animal quarantine centre, a 11,4 megalitre water reservoir, a sewer oxidation plant and 220 housing units. 

The Beitbridge Border Post upgrade being implemented through a public-private partnership arrangement with ZimBorders, is the biggest investment for any city so far in the country. It is being upgraded through a 17-year Build Operate and Transfer (BOT) arrangement between the Government and ZimBorders Consortium. Under the initiative, the Government is providing technical support while ZimBorders, through various financial institutions, is funding civil works.

The Permanent Secretary for Transport and Infrastructure Development Engineer Theodius Chinyanga said the project has a long-lasting economic impact to the locals. He said the project has improved the road network in the border town with some of the works still underway.

“Under this Beitbridge Border Post modernisation and upgrade, more roads within Beitbridge will be upgraded in order to facelift the totality of the border town. 

“While part of the road leading to the site where there are 220 housing units, we are saying under the Emergency Road Rehabilitation Programme, we will also do the road from the Beitbridge Complex going through to that particular site,” he said. 

“The road that takes people around the town, which ordinarily is a bus route will be also upgraded including the one leading to the plant and quarantine facility.”

Eng Chinyanga said improved efficiency at the border post will also boost cross-border business, a source of livelihood for a majority of locals.

He said during the course of the project, 1 400 people were directly employed while an additional 850 were employed by Bitumen World on the road section.

Eng Chinyanga said due to confidence and certainty created by the Second Republic in the agriculture sector, the country is witnessing an upsurge in the importation of pure animals from South Africa, which culminated in the establishment of a plant and animal quarantine facility in Beitbridge

“The law demands that the Ministry of Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Development ensures that those animals do not carry diseases hence they should be quarantined. The same applies with plants, if you import any plants, they have to be quarantined so that the ministry is satisfied that they are not carrying any diseases that would ultimately affect the entire sector,” he said.

Beitbridge town clerk, Mr Loud Ramakgapola said the Beitbridge Border Post modernisation and upgrade project has brought development to the town following an outcry from locals.

“There has been an outcry over lack of development in the town yet the border post generated a lot of revenue. This latest development is a reflection of commitment by the Government under the Second Republic to plough back,” he said.

“We now have a standard in terms of the definition of development. As we develop our town, we will be guided by the developments at the border.” 

He said the ongoing projects in the border town have made Beitbridge one of the fastest growing towns in Zimbabwe.

“The project has changed the face of Beitbridge and transformed our town into a world class commercial hub. We have no doubt that there will more business for Beitbridge,” said Mr Ramakgapola.

“As a town, we now have a fire station, which will strengthen our capacity to respond to fire and other related disasters. In the past we used to rely on our neighbours, Musina in South Africa,” he said. 

Three warehouses were recently gutted by fire at Beitbridge Border Post and property worth millions was lost in the inferno.

Mr Ramakgapola said the upgraded sewer oxidation plant will enable council to manage solid waste in a more environmentally sustainable manner and increase its sewer treatment capacity. 

“The sewer oxidation plant is structured and designed in such a way that there will be little effluent being released downstream,” he said.

Mr Ramakgapola said the reservoir is a game changer in terms of improving water supply.

For years, Beitbridge had been dogged by perennial water challenges emanating from ageing water infrastructure, which was failing to keep pace with the growth of town. 

“Once it is connected into our systems, the new 11.4 mega litre water reservoir and the attendant water conveyance system will go a long way towards improving the water supply in Beitbridge and water challenges will certainly be a thing of the past,” said Mr Ramakgapola.

Zimborders Consortium general manager Mr Nqobile Ncube said the completion of the border project will reduce the amount of time travellers spend while waiting for border clearance. 

Mr Ncube said the amount of commercial cargo coming through Beitbridge has started to gradually increase as a result of the efficiencies and the speed with which truckers, buses and cross-border traders are being cleared.

“The bulk of traffic that services the region uses this port of entry and because of that we were facing challenges because our infrastructure had not been designed to handle the huge volume of traffic. This led to challenges in terms of service delivery because our resources could not be properly deployed accordingly,” he said.

“So, this project brought about a development that is meant to cure a number of issues. There is now separation of traffic meaning each type of traffic will be dealt with in its separate cluster with specific resources designated to it.” 

Mr Ncube said automation of services at the new look Beitbridge Border Post has improved efficiency management systems. 

“We have this notorious tag of being the most corrupt border post in the country and the challenge we had was that almost every service had a human interface. However, with this modernisation a lot of processes have been automated so that we can electronically audit how services are delivered,” he said.

“This has actually enabled border agencies to focus on efficiency and premiums offered to users of the facility. Where it used to take 12 hours to move a truck through, we have almost whittled down to a point where almost 55 percent of traffic is being cleared under three hours.”

Mr Ncube said the project will ensure that Beitbridge retains its position as a strategic border post in the Sadc region. 

Beitbridge is one of the busiest border posts in Africa and does not only connect Zimbabwe and South Africa, but also serves as the transit point for the majority of north-south trade in Southern Africa.

“Under this project, we have also literally built a new suburb with 220 housing units for Government workers, 20 for senior management, 20 for middle managers and180 duplex units. These houses are going to be a major boost for the civil servants and Government agencies that had been failing to deploy critical personnel to Beitbridge due to accommodation challenges,” said Mr Ncube. 

Beitbridge Residents Association spokesperson Mr Jabulani Makhado said modernisation of the border post has changed the face of the border town and will enhance the economic status of the town.

“As residents, we are grateful to the Government for modernising the Beitbridge Border, which will go a long way in addressing bottlenecks and ensure the ease of doing business as well as facilitating trade,” he said.

“With a facility of this magnitude, there will be smooth movement of travellers since there is now a separation of traffic. This project will also improve the status of our town.”

Mr Makhado said the modernisation of the border has also created an opportunity for residents to benefit through improved water supply and sewer reticulation.

In his keynote address during the commissioning of the project, President Mnangagwa said along with other ancillary amenities, the new developments in Beitbridge entrench a sense of security for investment, improved service delivery and help transform the town into a modern, industrialised and growing commercial hub. 

The project was named one of the well- structured investment deals for the year 2020. It was also awarded the winning accolade of Global Trade Review Global Deal of the Year Award for Optimisation and Rehabilitation. – @mashnets

Article Source: The Chronicle

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