THE Transport Operators Association of Zimbabwe is confident border efficiency management systems at Beitbridge Border Post will improve upon completion of the US$300 million modernisation project.
The organisation’s chairman, Mr Albert Bere, said on Friday that transporters had seen many challenges, including cargo movement delays in the previous set up.
Government and the Zimborders consortium are upgrading infrastructure and technology, and traffic flow systems as part of the programme to increase ease of doing business at the border post.
The first phase of the civil works, which includes the construction of a new freight terminal, roads, ICT facilities, weigh-bridges and search bays is set to open on October 6.
The next two phases, which include terminals for clearing buses, light motor vehicles, and pedestrians will be completed next year.
“It is pleasing to note that the best benefit so far would be the elimination of the container depot since all processes will now be completed within the border post,” said Mr Bere.
“The new freight terminal offers a bigger space to take up to 12 commercial vehicles at a time for both north and south-bound traffic. Thus saving on truck downtime and parking charges at the container depot is guaranteed.
“Recent updates from the contractor indicate that most of the traffic flow processes will be digitalised and the coordination of the Government agencies under such as set-up will ensure accountability.”
Separation of traffic and terminals will improve the processing times due to dedicated services by Government agencies when only commercial transactions are processed.
The association had noted that the ongoing border improvements were coming at a huge final cost to transporters.
This would add to the bottom line and to some extent diluting all the intended benefits for the transporters.
“We are really hoping that some of our current challenges will be addressed with the upgrading of the border facilities,” said Mr Bere. “At the moment, we are experiencing truck delays caused by uncoordinated processes between ZIMRA and other Government agencies.
“For instance, some agencies like EMA are only opening up to 2200hrs when the border is a 24-hour operation. Commercial trucks were being directed to the container depot for physical examinations and could take days to be processed and get released.
“At the depot, ZIMRA only operates up to 10pm, rather than the 24 hours at the main border arena. So, transporters were losing several hours daily.
“You will also note the situation at Wafa-Wafa (former commercial arrivals parking bays) is a huge problem which ZIMRA has been failing to control for years, leaving drivers jostling to be first to be served without any order being kept by the security guards in the yard.”
The current notification system in place, where only trucks which have been cleared should cross, is mostly ignored by the South African border officials.
This resulted in uncleared vehicles being somehow allowed to cross over to Zimbabwe’s side of the border only to park and block the way.
Mr Bere said the transporters had challenges at the Vehicle Inspectorate Department’s weigh bridges situated within the border post which caused a huge hindrance to the smooth flow of traffic movement.