Chirundu border now open 24 hours
Zvamaida Murwira Senior Reporter
Chirundu One-Stop border post now operates 24 hours a day as Zimbabwe and Zambia seek to enhance intra-Africa trade and respond to the surge in volumes of feeder traffic from Beitbridge and Forbes border posts as well as the traffic from each country.
The border had been opening between 6am and 10pm before the third shift went active for continuous operation. It is the second border post after Beitbridge to offer a 24-hour service.
Chirundu Border Post has been one of key links of trade from South Africa to Zambia and other countries in the north and needed to have the same hours as Beitbridge.
The extension of hours of opening of Chirundu One-Stop border post was announced by Home Affairs and Cultural Heritage Minister Kazembe Kazembe in a Statutory Instrument gazetted last Friday.
This is also consistent with the Government’s policy thrust to improve the ease of doing business by removing all possible trade barriers that might impede on economic activity.
Economic analysts said allowing Chirundu Border Post to work for 24 hours had huge benefits to the economy.
Dr Langton Mabhanga of the Africa True North Strategy Institute said the extension of opening hours dovetailed with the spirit of the African integration in the context of Africa Continental Free Trade Agreement which was the theme during the African Union summit held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, early this year which was attended by Heads of State and Government in the continent.
“The increased hours is testimony of how Zimbabwe has become the nerve centre for ease of passage, linking maritime ports of entry for Eastern and Southern Africa, and general trade,” said Dr Mabhanga.
“These are the early signs of how Zimbabwe will be a key centre piece in the execution of the emerging Africa Continental Free Trade Agreement.”
Another analyst, Mr Kelvin Machoko said the 24-hour service will help the country grow its gross domestic product as a result of increased revenue due to heightened economic activities such as taxes, levies and fees charged to those using the point of entry.
“It will help unlock the country’s potential as more revenue will now accrue owing to various fees that will be levied directly and indirectly. Zimra will collect more revenue due to increased activities as service providers will respond by extending their operating times,” he said.
A member of Shipping Agencies Association welcomed the extension, saying it will go a long way in facilitating trade and decongest points of entry.
“It’s an issue that we have always been calling upon authorities. We are quite excited,” she said.
Recently Finance and Investment Promotion Minister Professor Mthuli Ncube commissioned accommodation of staff for Zimbabwe Revenue Authority, saying construction of more houses for staff had become imperative in preparation for the 24-hour operating times meant to facilitate trade.
He pledged continued Government support of border post infrastructure.
Chirundu was the first one-stop border post in Southern Africa, and has hosted a number of countries that have come to benchmark in their development of similar projects.
The latest development will ensure that Government meets its long-term national and economic objectives through Zimra’s revenue collection and trade facilitation efforts in line with Government’s economic blue print National Development Strategy 1.
Other measures that Zimra has helped achieve include domestic resource mobilisation through improving ease of doing business, restoring fiscal balance and plugging revenue leaks.
This is in line with the country’s desire to become a prosperous and empowered upper middle income society by 2030.
The upgrade of the Harare-Chirundu Highway, the northern leg of the main north-south corridor, has begun with five of the contractors now on site doing preparatory works as the Harare-Masvingo-Beitbridge Highway moves to completion.
The five contractors have all successfully worked on the 570km Harare-Beitbridge Highway, and are still finishing their sections, but can now use that experience as they turn their eyes onto the 342km Harare-Chirundu Road that helps Zimbabwe connect with South Africa, Zambia, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Tanzania.
Most of the highway needs a rebuild, with the Karoi-Kariba stretch now having bad patches characterised by potholes and eroding edges, making it difficult for motorists to manoeuvre. Only the stretch from Chirundu up the eascarpment is considered to be in good condition after the recent major work partly financed by Japanese support.
The upgrade has similar characteristics and same policies as that of the Beitbridge-Harare Highway that is nearing completion.
This also come as efforts to turn Beitbridge Border Post into a One-stop border is under way between Zimbabwe and South Africa as President Mnangagwa and his counterpart, President Cyril Ramaphosa met at the border last week.
In 2018, the New Dispensation led by President Mnangagwa undertook to transform the Beitbridge Border Post at a cost of US$300 million in partnership with the Zimborders Consortium.
The border post transformation was then done in three phases which are the construction of a freight terminal, bus terminal and pedestrians/ private motor vehicles’ terminal, which also came with the introduction of the automation and biometrics security systems.
Services have literally been streamlined to become paperless and reduce the human interface that promotes rent seeking activities between border agencies and border users.
The transformation of the border has been completed and the government has set its target on constructing a third bridge across the Limpopo River to link the two countries to cater mostly for commercial traffic.
One of the major pillars for the border upgrading is having the necessary infrastructure to speed up the implementation of the One-Stop Border Post (OSBP) concept between South Africa and Zimbabwe.