Thupeyo Muleya Beitbridge Bureau
More than 1 000 Zimbabweans have been hired in construction jobs for the new facilities during the ongoing US$300 million modernisation and upgrade of the Beitbridge Border Post due to be finished early next year with so far another 120 hired as permanent staff to operate the cargo terminal.
Zimborders Consortium and the Government are implementing the project under a build, operate and transfer concession over 17,5 years.
The consortium is made up of a group of Zimbabweans, South Africans, international entrepreneurs, and financial institutions and experts.
The upgrading of the country’s busiest inland port of entry and one of the Sadc’s key transit points is part of a raft of measures the New Dispensation is rolling out to promote the ease of doing business and trade facilitation.
Zimborders Consortium chief executive Mr Francois Diedrechsen said they were expecting to complete all the civil works in the next two and half years.
He said so far they had hired more than 1000 Zimbabweans during the course of the modernization and that another 450 will be hired 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 of freight terminal, warehouses, weighbridges, access roads, fire suppression system, scanner sheds, and automation.
“We are now working on the second phase of a bus terminal scheduled for completion by mid-May 2022. We will move to Phase 3, in April for the light vehicles terminal, which will be completed in November 2022 along with out of port works”.
Zimborders outsourced 40 percent of the civil works and raw materials from Zimbabwean companies to enhance Beitbridge town and Zimbabwe’s economic growth.
“From the outset, we agreed with the government of Zimbabwe that our priority should be making sure that local people benefit from this project,” said Mr Diedrechsen.
“As we speak, we have hired more than 1000 Zimbabweans on the construction side. A further 120 have been hired to operate the freight terminal which we completed last year and is up and running.
Our aim is to increase the number of employees when the buses and light vehicles terminal start operating in June and November this year.”
Some of the indirect benefits of the modernisation was the redirecting of regional and international commercial traffic to the Zimbabwean transit route with more than 900 commercial cargo vehicles passing through the new freight terminal each day compared to 700 last year.
Local businesses will benefit a lot from spillover effects related to the movement of cargo and people through Beitbridge.
“I am happy to be contributing to my hometown’s and the country’s economic and infrastructural growth,” said a construction worker, Mr Recent Mbedzi from Lutumba in Beitbridge.
According to another worker, Miss Gugulethu Tshuma, the border project had helped address issues of gender imbalances with more women being hired for both technical and non-technical jobs.