Thupeyo Muleya Beitbridge Bureau
Inadequate infrastructure at Beitbridge Border Post is hindering the speedy implementation of the one-stop border post between Zimbabwe and South Africa, it has emerged.
Border officials told the parliamentary portfolio committee on Foreign Affairs on a tour of the border post on Friday last week that office space and staff accommodation fell far short of demand.
Beitbridge is one of the busiest border posts in southern Africa.
Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (zimra) regional manager for Beitbridge, Mr Batsirai Chadzingwa, said the situation at the border post was deplorable.
He said the border post had not been upgraded to allow the separation of traffic into commercial, light commercial, transit, hazardous, buses and tourists.
“We have a serious challenge of infrastructure at this port, which makes it difficult to implement some of the border management systems,” he said.
“It is also sad to note that the border parameter fence has been vandalised by touts and other criminals who gain entry through undesignated points. Even if we repair the fence, they continue vandalising it, but we have employed the services of other stakeholders to reduce such incidents.”
Mr Chadzingwa said when the border was built, it was meant for very little traffic and that it was important to accelerate its upgrading to meet modern standards.
An estimated 170 000 people, 15 000 haulage trucks, 35 000 private cars and 2 500 buses access the country through Beitbridge border post every month.
Mr Chadzingwa said they had moved the clearance of pre-owned cars mainly from Japan to Manica and Malindi transit sheds as a way of decongesting the border post.
“Under normal circumstances, we should be doing everything from one point, but due to the status quo we have to be innovative.
“We appeal to you as parliamentarians to ensure that the upgrading of this border post is done with the urgency it deserves.”
Mr Chadzingwa said they were worried by the presence of touts, wheeler-dealers and beggars causing congestion at border post.
“Under health and safety matters, it is important that the paving of the border is done urgently as you can see this place has a lot of fine dust, especially around the arrivals’ commercial section”, he said.
Chairperson of the portfolio committee Cde Kindess Paradza said the slow upgrading of the infrastructure was the stumbling block to the one-stop border post between Zimbabwe and South Africa.
“Our major focus is the promotion of regional trade and the Government’s policy shift on the ease of doing business, which we are pursuing very seriously,” he said.
“As Parliament, we want to see how zimra and Immigration, among other border agencies, are promoting that thrust. We are happy that border officials at Beitbridge are alive to this Government thrust, though their main frustration is mainly of poor and inadequate infrastructure.
“It is important that we attend to this issue (re-organising the border) and speed up the implementation of the one-stop border post.”
Under the one-stop border post, travellers would be cleared once for passage into either country, rather than the situation where they are subjected to the same processes on both sides of the border.