Thupeyo Muleya Beitbridge Bureau
BeitBridge Border Post recorded a 10,37 percent increase in travellers between December 1 and 24 this year compared to the same period last year, statistics from the Department of Immigration show.
The statistics show that 512 567 people accessed both Zimbabwe and South Africa using Beitbridge Border Post in 2017 and the number increased to 565 731 this year.
During the period under review, 348 008 people entered the country against 290 986 recorded last year.
The figures also show that less people travelled out of the country this year (217 723), compared to 221 581 last year.
The assistant regional immigration officer in charge of Beitbridge Mr Nqobile Ncube attributed the development to the confidence travellers are having with the level of efficiency and organisation amongst border authorities.
“We are seemingly regaining the traffic we were losing to Plumtree and other less busy ports of entries as a result of improved service here.
“In addition, you will note that many travellers are now documented (they have valid passports) as a results of improved service at the passports office. Though the volume of traffic has increased, the travellers are highly organised and the movement is sparse,” said Mr Ncube.
He said they were clearing an average of 14 000 including arrivals and departures per day during off peak periods and the figure rises to 30 000 during peak periods.
He added that they had re-organised the border and separated traffic into pedestrians, motorists, buses, commercial and visitors to ensure a speedy flow of traffic.
Mr Ncube said they were also having periodic review meetings with both local (border) actors and their South African counterparts to ensure that the border was user friendly.
“It is also pleasing to note that more travellers have become knowledgeable and accustomed to using the border post other than resorting to irregular migration and hence we continue to have an increase in people with valid travel documents.
“We have also improved on our coordination mechanisms locally. This has seen us harmonising clearance procedures.
“In addition, we have set the period between 5 December and 15 January 2019 as our peak,” said Mr Ncube.
The separation of traffic into red and green routes by the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (Zimra) has been paying dividends in the last two years.
The red route is used by those with goods to declare while the green route is for those with nothing to declare.
It is also understood that there has been a high level of compliance in immigration laws after South Africa introduced tough measures on May 26, 2014 to deal with those who over stayed.
Under the immigration directive No 9 of 2014, those who overstay in the neighbouring country for less than 30 days (first time) shall be declared undesirable immigrants for 12 months.
Those who repeat the same offence for the second time will be barred from travelling to South Africa for 2 years, while those who commit the offence for a third time will be barred for 5 years.
Zimbabweans are allowed to stay in South Africa for a period not exceeding 90 days per each calendar year.