Congestion reigns at B/bridge border A file picture of mainly Zimbabweans trouping back home from South Africa for holiday through the Beitbridge Border Post

Thupeyo Muleya Beitbridge Bureau

Congestion is reigning supreme at Beitbridge Border Post, with travellers rushing to get back to their bases in South Africa.

The Herald understands that over 500 000 people and nearly 100 000 vehicles used the country and SADC’s busiest port of entry in December 2019.

Long queues of vehicles stretching for over 4km into Beitbridge town have been the order of the day over the past four days.

Members of the Zimbabwe Republic Police, Zimbabwe Defence Forces and Beitbridge municipal police have been deployed on major roads leading to the border post.

Traffic has been categorised into light vehicles, buses, commercial and pedestrians to avoid congestion.

Heavy vehicles and buses are using a bypass which goes through Vhembe View suburb, while light vehicles are using the main road leading to Bulawayo to access the border.

Though the assistant regional immigration officer-in-charge of Beitbridge, Mr Nqobile Ncube, could not be reached for comment yesterday, he said on Saturday that they were working with the South Africans to expeditiously clear the traffic.

He said they were using border efficiency management systems which they employed in December.

“We have added more manpower and opened more service points to clear people and vehicles as fast as possible,” said Mr Ncube.

“Further, we are constantly liaising with South Africa in addressing challenges as and when they arise.”

Mr Ncube said limited parking space for light vehicles and buses was the main challenge on the South African component of the border.

He said the majority of the motorists had been cleared for passage into South Africa where vehicles were being cleared in batches.

“We have harmonised operations between 3 December, 2019 to 13 January, 2020 and are rolling out a number of compliance measures to curb movement by undocumented persons across borders and the smuggling of minors,” said Mr Ncube.

A source at the border said the slow movement of people into South Africa was also necessitated by the many security checks on travellers, considering that there were a number with fake or fraudulently acquired documents.

“You will realise that the South Africans are thorough on security checks considering that there are a lot of people who want to play hide and seek with the law during major holidays,” said the source.

The South African Home Affairs Department said recently it deployed 400 more staff to major border posts, including Beitbridge, to address manpower challenges.

Some travellers have been opting to use less busy ports from South Africa, which go through Plumtree, Mpoengs, Maitengwe and Mlambaphele via Botswana, in a bid to avoid congestion at Beitbridge.

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