Thupeyo Muleya Beitbridge Bureau
The efficiency challenges that had become a perennial headache at the Beitbridge Border Post are gradually being addressed through the ongoing US$300 million modernisation works carried out by the Second Republic, Minister for Presidential Affairs and Monitoring the Implementation of Government Programmes, Dr Joram Gumbo, said yesterday.
He said they expected things to get even better when the project is completed next year. In an interview on the sidelines of a monitoring and evaluation tour of the border, Minister Gumbo said the Government was impressed by the scope of work being carried out by the Zimborders Consortium.
The border is being upgraded under a 17 and half year concession, with Zimborders providing funding while Government contributes technical services.
Minister Gumbo said the lack of appropriate infrastructure and non-automation, the border post had in previous years created bottlenecks to the efficient movement of cargo and people.
“Such a scenario created security challenges, congestion, and delays,” he said.
“So, as the Second Republic, we are upgrading and modernising Beitbridge Border Post through a private-public partnership with the Zimborders Consortium.
“We are impressed with the current scope of work and the contractor is still on course to complete all the in-and-out-of-port works as planned.”
Zimborders Consortium CEO Mr Francois Diedrechsen said civil works had been phased for the three terminals to ensure the border remains operational whilst construction continues. He said they were expecting to create 1 000 jobs during the course of the modernisation and another 450 upon completion.
“Ninety percent of these jobs have been taken up by Zimbabweans and we are bringing in a few technocrats from South Africa,” said Mr Diedrechsen.
“So far, we have completed the first phase (freight terminal, warehouses, weighbridges, access roads, fire suppression system, scanner sheds, and automation).
“We are now working on the second phase (bus terminal) scheduled for completion by mid-May 2022.
“We will move to Phase 3 in April (light vehicles terminal), which will be completed in November 2022 along with out-of-port works.”
Assistant Regional Immigration officer-in-charge of Beitbridge, Mr Nqobile Ncube, said traffic separation was a key goal considering that the service will now be sector-based.
He said the human resources, commitment, and efficiency-based mind-set on all border-based personnel would be critical in delivering service that matches the world-class infrastructure.
“The design of the new-look border is ideal for the full implementation of the one-stop-border post concept with South Africa,” he said.
Beitbridge District Development Coordinator, Mrs Sikhangazile Mafu-Moyo, said the border upgrade would change the face of the district and the country.
She said an attractive border, would push economic development and unlock some investment opportunities relating to cargo and human movement.
The town’s mayor, Clr Munyaradzi Chitsunge, said they were expecting more people to develop their properties to standards set by the border.
He said they were grateful for support from Government under the Emergency Road Rehabilitation Program (ERRP) that will see them surfacing most of the roads in the suburbs and industrial areas.
“Good roads attract good investment, so the ongoing infrastructure development around our town is very positive,” said mayor Chitsunge.
Senator for Beitbridge, Cde Tambudzani Mohadi said the ongoing civil workers in and out of the border had created a lot of employment opportunities for locals especially youths and women.