Thupeyo Muleya Beitbridge Bureau
The Government has started implementing a dry run at the new commercial freight terminal at the Beitbridge Border Post, which is being modernised at a cost of US$300 million.
So far, the Zimborders Consortium that is implementing the project, has spent US$65 million on pre-commencement works and the construction of roads, weigh-bridges, warehouses and upgrading ICT facilities.
Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Transport and Infrastructural Development, Engineer Theodius Chinyanga, said the freight terminal would be officially opened on October 6.
He said already, Zimbabwe and South Africa had opened dialogue on the possibility of constructing another bridge to enhance the speedy flow of traffic and facilitate regional and international trade.
Eng Chinyanga led a team of Government agencies yesterday on an inspection of the civil works ahead of the official opening next month.
“We are here to check on the progress on civil works with all multiple Government agencies,” he said.
“This project is being implemented in three phases and we are happy to note that our partner has hit the timelines.
“The modernisation initiative is being rolled out in three-phases which include the commercial freight terminal (phase one), buses and light motor vehicles, and pedestrian terminals under phases 2 and 3 respectively.”
It is envisaged that the new commercial freight terminal will house the departments of immigration, customs, the police, and all border agencies (accommodated) in the building.
The counters were set up in sequence so that the clients do not have to move from one building to the other.
Said Eng Chinyanga: “Already now we have started implementing a dry run and commercial trucks have been re-routed to follow the new route which goes through the new facilities.
“In the coming week, we will see service people moving from the old buildings into the new terminal building.”
Eng Chinyanga said they were not anticipating any major challenges at that time because they will keep the old buildings working with selected services.
Zimborders chief executive Mr Francois Diedrechsen said they were expecting to complete the outstanding border modernisation works next year.
“We are moving to phase two which includes the construction of the buses terminal, light vehicles terminal, and pedestrian terminals.
“Other works include upgrading the sewer and water systems in Beitbridge town and the construction of 264 housing units for border officials,” he said.
Chairperson of the subcommittee on ICT, Mr Shami Moyo, said the automation of the modernised border post will involve the use of cameras and more paperless transactions.
Travellers and transporters will use a single-window payment system to cut time spent at the border.
“The idea is to go hi-tech and use more of the prepayments and pre-clearance systems. People must spend as little time as possible to go through this port of entry,” said Mr Moyo.