Thupeyo Muleya Beitbridge Bureau
GOVERNMENT will provide more resources to Beitbridge Border Post in a move expected to enhance security and improve efficiency, Home Affairs Minister Dr Ignatius Chombo has said. Dr Chombo made the remarks during a tour of the border post by an inter-ministerial team comprising his deputy Obedingwa Mguni, Deputy Transport and Infrastructure Development Minister Engineer Michael Madanha and Deputy Mines and Mining Development Minister Freddy Moyo last week.
“We have mobilised over $600 000 to address some of the challenges affecting the border authorities here. “Part of the money will be spent on procuring all-terrain vehicles and various gadgets to curb intrusive leakages along the border line. The police need at least 40 more vehicles to operate at full strength” he said.
Dr Chombo said most of the challenges at the port of entry included the inadequacy of infrastructure, manpower and accommodation for Government workers. He said they were also seized with the reports of rampant corruption at the border post.
“It is worrisome that we are importing for $7 billion per year and getting around $3 billion on exports. It means we could be losing a lot to smuggling,” Minister Chombo said. “We want to make the border post as user friendly as possible. We want a situation where there is less paper work and traffic is separated into commercial, buses, private motorists and tourists.
“Such a scenario will see people spending less time at the border”.
He said they had started installing CCTV at Beitbridge Border Post to address issues of corruption. Dr Chombo said they were also working on creating a road and a parameter fence along the border to enhance motorised patrols and curb smuggling.
“We have also set up a local steering committee that will work on addressing cross-cutting border issues. The committee is made up of various agencies including local leaders. It is important for us as a Government to upgrade the border post as a matter of urgency and accord it a befitting status as the busiest inland port in Sub-Saharan Africa”.
He said the current situation at the border post was increasing opportunities for corruption and unnecessary delays of cargo movement and tourists. Cde Chombo warned touts and conmen that police would descend on them heavily.
He said they were behind most criminal activities at the border. It is understood that 95 percent of cargo transported in the region is by road transport with a delay of three days at the border increasing transport costs by about $400 per truck per day which is passed on to the importer.
The congestion and delays reportedly cost $200 million in lost production a year.