Thupeyo Muleya Beitbridge Bureau
Border authorities from Zimbabwe and South Africa are geared up for an anticipated increase in vehicular and human traffic during the festive season, an official has said.
The number of travellers accessing either Zimbabwe or South Africa through Beitbridge Border Post is expected to rise from 13 000 to 30 000 daily.
The Assistant Regional Immigration Officer (ARIO) in charge of Beitbridge (Zimbabwe) Mr Nqobile Ncube today said that they had harmonised a border efficiency management plan with South Africa that will be implemented from December 4 to 13 January 2020.
He said the volume of incoming traffic had relatively increased and they expected it to surge until the Christmas Eve.
“The joint stakeholders’ forum at Beitbridge Border Post consisting of Zimbabwe and South African agencies agreed that the festive season operational period between December 4 2019- January 13, 2020,” said Mr Ncube.
“We are building from the successes of last festive season and this time will implement the following measures; all off and leave cancelled for border worker, collapsed four shifts into three to enhance manpower and will also utilise outside clearing points in conjunction with separating traffic into buses, light, heavy and pedestrians.
“In terms of human traffic, we have been clearing an average of 16 000 in the off peak period and now we are handling close to 21 000 daily.”
The official said they were rolling out a number of compliance measures to curb movement by undocumented persons across borders and the smuggling of minors.
He said their compliance focus will be on transporters and we will be pushing for deterrent measures in terms of arrests and convictions.
Mr Ncube encouraged the elderly, expecting mothers and those travelling with minors where possible, to travel earlier to avoid congestion at ports of entry.
“We are working on building on the past successes experienced last year and this Easter to ensure expedient, convenient and hassle less travel.
“All senior managers will be on duty to attend to all issues on the ground in an effort to ensure that everybody is at home in time for Christmas,” said the official.
He warned those involved in irregular migration and other criminal activities during major holidays that security had been beefed and that the long arm of the law will catch up with them.
Mr Ncube said parents should take advantage of the recent relaxation of external birth registration fees and the decentralisation of the process to ensure that during the festive season they procure relevant documentation for their children.
He said they should also avoid contracting child smugglers to illegally transport their children across borders and that the practice exposed those (children) to criminal activities including human trafficking and sexual abuse among others.
The Zimbabwe Revenue Authority has deployed 80 relief officers from less busy stations to Beitbridge.
Beitbridge is the only border with South Africa for road users and access port for countries north of the Limpopo River.
In the last three years people would shun the border for other less busy ports via Botswana (Mpoengs, Plumtree and Maitengwe).
Over 100 000 vehicles including private cars, haulage trucks and buses accessed both South Africa and Zimbabwe in December 2018 via Beitbridge.