Thupeyo Muleya Beitbridge Bureau
Activity has heightened at Beitbridge Border Post, with many Zimbabweans based in South Africa having started trooping back to their bases.
Long queues of both vehicles and people have become the order of the day, especially in the evening, since January 1.
Statistics from the department of immigration show that a total of 63 253 people left the country via Beitbridge between January 1 and 4.
At least 35 495 people also entered the country during that same period.
Assistant regional immigration officer-in-charge of Beitbridge Mr Notius Tarisai last week, said the border efficiency management committee was fully prepared to deal with the increase in traffic.
Members of the committee include the department of immigration, vehicle inspection, ports health, the police, the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority, zimra and other security agents.
“The volume of both vehicles and people has been increasing since New Year’s Day on the south-bound traffic,” said Mr Tarisai.
“We are clearing an average of 15 000 people on departures and 9 000 on arrivals per day. During peak period, we clear 15 000 people, including both arrivals and departures.”
Mr Tarisai said they had separated traffic into pedestrians, visitors, private vehicles, commercial and buses to ensure a speedy flow.
He said they opened up more service points outside the main immigration hall, while other departments had also beefed staff to handle the pressure at the port of entry.
Mr Tarisai said they had harmonised operations with their South African counterparts to avoid clogging the New Limpopo Bridge, which links the two countries.
“We have enough manpower complemented by the police to enforce compliance and to ensure maximum security for travellers, and to prevent issues of illegal migration,” he said.
Operations at the port of entry where chaos reigned supreme in previous years during the festive season, have greatly improved.
Beitbridge is the only border post with South Africa for road users and also service as an access port for countries north of the Zambezi River.
In the last three years, travellers have been shunning the border for other less busy ports into Botswana (Mphoengs, Plumtree and Maitengwe).
According to the department of immigration, the volume of travellers who accessed the country from South Africa via Beitbridge between December 1 and 27 last year, increased by 24 percent in comparison to the same period the previous year.
Statistics show that a total of 780 934 people accessed the country through Beitbridge December 2016, while 595 796 used the border in December 2015.
The figures include both arrivals and departures.