Source: Human, vehicular traffic peaks at Beitbridge border | The Herald
Thupeyo Muleya Beitbridge Bureau
Human and vehicular traffic through the revamped Beitbridge Border Post has started peaking as many Zimbabweans and other citizens from neighbouring countries such as Zambia and Malawi, have started travelling for the Christmas and New Year holidays.
The travellers, especially those that had not passed through Beitbridge in the past year, are enjoying new border efficiencies that have come through the construction three terminals to separate traffic into commercial, bus and light vehicles.
The border has been modernised through a partnership between the Government and Zimborders Consortium in a US$300 million public-private partnership.
Most services have since been automated to reduce too much human interface between border authorities and travellers, which was previously blamed corruption that was rampant at Beitbridge Border Post.
With all the three terminals now fully functional, travellers are being speedily processed and the Department of Immigration says it had cleared 62 770 travellers between December 5 and 10.
The freight terminal opened to traffic in October last year while the buses terminal opened in June this year, with the light motor vehicles and pedestrians’ terminal opening last Monday.
Previously, the border’s limited infrastructure and human resources to clear the increased seasonal traffic, resulting in long queues.
At least seven million travellers pass through Beitbridge annually.
Border authorities have started implementing the harmonised clearance systems from December 10 this year to January 10 next year.
Acting head of immigration services at Beitbridge, Mrs Cannie Magaya, said they were geared for the seasonal traffic.
“Already, we have started witnessing a gradual increase in travellers going either side of the border,” she said.
“We expect to have a sharp increase in the coming week (this week) as we approach the peak of the festive season.
“For the period between December 5 and 10, we processed 16 488 arrivals and 15 286 departures at the bus terminal, 14 972 entries and 11 343 exits at the light vehicles and pedestrians’ terminal. A total of 2 401 arrivals and 2 280 departures passed through the freight terminal.”
Mrs Magaya said they had also beefed up security and manpower at all the key points to enhance the flow of traffic.
Operations and systems among the border agencies will be reviewed depending on the circumstances.
Zimborders chief executive officer, Mr Francois Diedrechsen, said since the opening of the light vehicles terminal, they are clearing an average of 1 100 vehicles daily.
“Traffic is peaking daily as the festive season is approaching and we have managed to keep it flowing smoothly with little to no queues at this stage, notwithstanding the challenges of load shedding in both South Africa and Zimbabwe,” he said.
“In the same vein, we advise travellers to have their paperwork ready, if there is any, and completed and to adhere to the flow process rules, so as to avoid causing any blockages or frustrations.
“There is a large amount of Zimborders and Government agencies staff on the ground at all times to assist if anything is unclear to anybody.”
ZimBorders general manager, Mr Nqobile Ncube, said they were working with all major Government agencies to ensure travellers get premium customised services at all the three terminals.
The Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (Zimra) has says it has deployed adequate human and material resources at all the country’s ports of entry and exit to clear increased traffic that is synonymous with the festive season.
In a statement last week, Zimra said more human resources were put at Plumtree and Beitbridge border posts, which are usually the busiest inland ports of entry during peak periods and major holidays.
“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,” reads part of the statement.
“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 top destinations beyond our borders, all using either private or public transport.”
In separate interviews, travellers said they were happy with the new set up where traffic has been separated.
A motorist, Mr Rafios Chikwerengwe, from Chiredzi said he had spent less than 30 minutes to complete the border process.
In the past, Mr Chikwerengwe said it took him four hours to clear all the processes.
“This time we are getting better services compared to previous years where we would spend hours or days to enter the country from South Africa,” said a traveller who only called herself Mai Chirandu.