Thupeyo Muleya Beitbridge Bureau
The country’s customs authority- Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (Zimra) has managed to clear a backlog of commercial trucks which had been stuck at Beitbridge last week following the temporary closure of the South African component of the border.
South Africa closed its side of the port of entry between Wednesday and Thursday last week when a customs officer tested positive for the novel coronavirus (Covid19).
As a result cargo piled in truck parks in both countries and since the reopening of the border on Friday morning, queues of trucks had become common along the Beitbridge to Bulawayo road (Zimbabwe) and the N1 (South Africa).
To expedite the clearance of this backlog, South African Revenue Services and Zimra streamlined operations giving priority to the movement of essential cargo-medication, perishable food and mining consumables (explosives).
According to a Zimbabwean border official, a total of 3100 left, while 2500 entered the country between 10 July and 15 July via Beitbridge Border Post.
“We worked very hard with all border players to return things to normalcy. An average of 550 trucks are going south bound and 450 going north bound daily,” said the official.
Today, authorities cleared all the backlog with virtually no queues along major roads. Traffic through Beitbridge started picking in mid-April after many countries in the region closed their borders to transit traffic.
As it stands Zimbabwe remains a viable transit route for Malawians, Zambians, Congolese, Tanzanians, Mozambicans and Angolans. Zimra spokesperson, Mr Francis Chimanda said last week that they were rolling out the pre-clearance facility to speed up the flow of commercial traffic at the borders.
Under such a facility, goods are cleared and import duty is paid prior to their arrival at the border, where upon arrival customs officials will only check for conformity.
This is opposed to a system where all the customs procedures are initiated at the port of entry and the turnaround time can take anything from three hours to 24 hours depending on the availability of proper documents (including permits).