Africa Moyo in BEITBRIDGE
President Mnangagwa yesterday commissioned the modernised Beitbridge Border Post and said all border posts would be upgraded to improve the quality of services in the transport sub-sector.
He directed Transport and Infrastructural Development Minister Felix Mhona to ensure the speedy upgrading of the Beitbridge-Bulawayo-Victoria Falls highway.
President Mnangagwa, who arrived in Beitbridge at 10:50am, immediately got down to business, touring the Staff Village where 220 houses are being constructed for border employees as part of the whole border upgrade project.
He was impressed by the workmanship at the Staff Village situated on Mawale Road, east of Beitbridge Border Post.
The President then headed for the border post where he got into a briefing and later emerged to unveil the plaque, indicating the official commissioning of the new border, which, away from improving efficiencies due to automation, was turning heads due to its beauty.
He then toured the border and later addressed delegates that had gathered for the border commissioning.
In his address, President Mnangagwa said the upgrading and modernisation of the Beitbridge Border Post was “a key milestone in the operationalisation of the Integrated Beitbridge Development Master Plan and stands out as one of the signature infrastructure projects being implemented, to date, by the Second Republic.
“In line with international trends, and to further improve the quality of our services in the transport sub-sector, my Government will accelerate the upgrade and modernisation of other border posts, including Chirundu, Forbes, Plumtree, Nyamapanda, Kazungula, and Victoria Falls.
“We are also aware that the development of these border posts must be augmented by other complementing infrastructure for the efficient transportation of goods, movement of people and provision of services.
“In that vein, my Government remains committed to ensuring that our major highways and feeder roads are speedily modernised. Riding on the notable successes made by local companies on the Beitbridge-Harare Road, we are determined to move on to modernise the Harare-Chirundu and Beitbridge-Bulawayo-Victoria Falls roads.”
President Mnangagwa said the scope of works undertaken at the Beitbridge Border Post, “will undoubtedly see this port of entry facilitate the smooth discharge of the statutory functions of various stakeholders, as well as result in a seamless link of our economy with other jurisdictions along the North-South Corridor.
“As such, the project gives prominence to the shared aspirations for greater regional integration and cooperation, as outlined in the Regional Infrastructure Development Strategy.
“The high impact project will have far-reaching spin-offs for sustainable socio-economic development for the peoples and economies of our Southern Africa region.”
The border modernisation project started in 2018 when President Mnangagwa presided over the ground-breaking ceremony.
It is almost complete just a few years after taking off.
The idea of modernising the border was conceived around 2014, but could not take off due to various challenges.
But under the Second Republic led by President Mnangagwa, Government officials have been challenged to ensure no project goes for long without being completed, while high-impact projects including the construction of Lake Gwayi-Shangani, which was initiated by the colonisers in 1912, are being completed.
President Mnangagwa said he was “gratified and thoroughly impressed by the remarkable state-of-the-art infrastructure that has so far been constructed” (at Beitbridge Border post).
“The modernised and upgraded sections of the border post are a testament to the efficacy of my Government’s ‘Zimbabwe is open for business’ philosophy.
“It further resonates with the ongoing thrust of building the Zimbabwe we all want, brick by brick, stone upon stone. The completed parts prove that success is indeed inevitable when Government and the private sector work together towards the development of a nation.
“I, thus, applaud the Zimborders Consortium, a Zimbabwean-led initiative, for executing this landmark project with diligence, dexterity, professionalism and excellent workmanship.”
Zimborders, which is upgrading the border under a US$300 million seventeen-and-half-year Build, Operate and Transfer deal, achieved key construction milestones even in the face of Covid-19-induced disruptions.
The Second Republic, said President Mnangagwa, remained determined to continue unlocking innovative financial instruments and solutions to restore, develop and modernise seamless and cost-effective national and transboundary infrastructure for the benefit of people and the economy.
The Beitbridge Border Post modernisation project brings with it an array of benefits for the country and the region as a whole, particularly through the facilitation of trade, investment, business travel, and tourism.
President Mnangagwa said the ease of movement of goods and people in the SADC region through this port of entry will contribute significantly to the overall industrialisation agenda and economic growth of the region as envisioned in the SADC Industrialisation Strategy and Roadmap.
“This is more pertinent as we seek to strengthen value chains at both regional and continental levels,” he said. “As you are aware, the project was inspired by the fact that Beitbridge Border Post is the busiest point of entry into our country, handling the largest volume of traffic into Southern Africa.”
The landmark border upgrade project entails the construction and upgrading of terminal buildings, vehicle inspection, and parking bays.
In addition, office space, information and communication technology, surveillance technology, as well as truck and baggage scanners are also being modernised.
President Mnangagwa said benefits also accrue to inbound and transit freight clearance as well as customs clearance and immigration procedures.
He said the administration of import and export, toll fees, and duty payment collection had been improved while warehousing facilities were being expanded.
Since the opening of the new freight terminal and facilities for commercial traffic, the average waiting time for users has been significantly reduced.
President Mnangagwa directed the various agencies at ports of entry to uphold the highest standards of integrity and professional ethics in sync with the work culture of the Second Republic.
He said he had been informed by Finance and Economic Development Minister, Professor Mthuli Ncube that revenue collection at Beitbridge Border Post had tripled, although the number of trucks crossing had not correspondingly tripled, suggesting there was corruption in the past.
President Mnangagwa said opportunities for corruption that were exploited by unscrupulous border officials had been cut out by automation.
Staffers that were used to manually processing travellers and cargo were directed to learn to use the new digital system while those that refuse to adjust would be recommended for removal from office, he said.
President Mnangagwa said border posts were the face of the country and must be a physical embodiment of the nation’s character defined by values of hard-honest work, patriotism and the commitment to serve in the best interest of the country.
“In the same vein, I urge exporting entities, cross border traders and travellers, among other users of our ports of entry, to be responsible and law-abiding citizens,” he said.
The border modernisation project, which was named one of the well-structured investment deals for the year 2020, was awarded the winning accolade of Global Trade Review Global Deal of the year award for optimisation and rehabilitation.
It has provided opportunities for skills and knowledge transfer in the local community, with over 1 400 jobs created to date for locals.
The border modernisation project is not just confined to improvements in the border control zone, but brings a new 11,4-mega-litre water reservoir, an upgraded sewer oxidation plant and the refuse disposal system and a fire station to bolster Beitbridge Municipality’s capacity to respond to fire and other related disasters, among other benefits.
President Mnangagwa challenged the municipality to adopt projects and programmes to beautify the open spaces and other buildings, in the spirit of the National Clean Up and Beautification Agenda.
Environment, Climate, Tourism and Hospitality Industry Minister Mangaliso Ndlovu was directed to ensure that all border posts get much attention during the monthly clean-up campaigns.
Vice President Constantino Chiwenga said the border modernisation programme had been successful despite efforts by “a number of little saboteurs” that tried to throw spanners in the works.
He said infrastructure projects were key building blocks to the attainment of Vision 2030 of an upper middle income economy.
VP Chiwenga said Zimbabwe had witnessed extraordinary infrastructure developments since 2018, targeting roads, airports and dams, among others, while the economy has also been stabilised.
Minister Mhona said President Mnangagwa’s hands-on approach to development, passion for ensuring no one and no place remains behind, the “Zimbabwe which has opened for business”, and passion for local solutions that reside in the “Nyika inovakwa nevene vayo” mantra, had reverberated far and wide.
Over the years, said Minister Mhona, Beitbridge Border Post, in particular, had suffered from a multiplicity of challenges which resulted in trucks and travellers experiencing inordinate delays.
“As a result, the Beitbridge Border post was chosen to be a trailblazer and pioneer project of upgrading and modernising our borders,” he said.
Beitbridge Border Post is the busiest regional transit link in Southern and Eastern Africa, connecting South Africa and Zimbabwe, Botswana, Zambia, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Malawi and Tanzania.
The Ministry of Transport and Infrastructural Development has also upgraded and dualised the 5km of road from the border to the intersection of Masvingo and Bulawayo roads to complement the new border infrastructure.
To indicate the start of works on the Beitbridge-Bulawayo-Victoria Falls highway, works covering 1km of the road have been completed, said Minister Mhona.
Minister of State for Provincial Affairs and Devolution for Matabeleland South Province, Abedinigo Ncube, said the Beitbridge border upgrade demonstrated the Second Republic to develop all areas.
He said following the completion of the project, Matabeleland South will “never be the same again”.
Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Minister Monica Mutsvangwa, Defence and War Veterans Affairs Minister Oppah Muchinguri-Kashiri, Local Government and Public Works Minister July Moyo, Midlands Minister of State and Provincial Affairs and Devolution Larry Mavima, other senior Government officials, chiefs and legislators, attended the function.