‘Border automation brings back transporters into Zim’

The automation of services at the new look Beitbridge Border Post has helped address

efficiency management systems and bring back some transporters on the Zimbabwean

transit route, Zimborders Consortium general manager Mr Nqobile Ncube has said.

He said this to members of two Parliamentary portfolio committees responsible for

Finance and Economic Development and that of Defence, Home Affairs, and Security.

Mr Ncube said the number of commercial cargo coming through Beitbridge was

gradually increasing as a result of the efficiencies and the speed with which truckers,

buses and cross-border traders were being cleared.

Government and the Zimborders Consortium are modernising the country’s busiest

inland port at a cost of US$300 million under a 17 and half year concession.

Under the concession, the Government is providing the land and technical support

while the consortium is providing funding and civil works.

Zimborders will then manage the infrastructure for the duration of the concession

before handing it over to the Government.

“We have structured the construction works in phases, and we are already done with

Phase 1 (freight terminal) and Phase 2 (bus terminal),” said Mr Ncube.

Civil works on the last phase, for the light vehicles terminal and the out-of-port

works, are underway. Mr Ncube said Zimborders had made great strides in addressing

efficiency issues through the automation of most services and operations.

“This move reduces too much human interface between the border officials and other

border users. So since we launched the freight terminal in October last year, we are

handling an average of 800 trucks per day.

“At its best, the border used to carry about 1 200 commercial trucks daily, and we can

surpass that margin if we continue working on upgrading efficiency issues,” he said.

Mr Ncube said since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, most traffic had been looking

at other less busy ports through Mozambique and Botswana.

The separation of traffic into commercial trucks, buses, light vehicles, and pedestrians

had contributed to improved border services.

Mr Ncube said authorities were now dealing with issues based on each sector’s specific

needs.

“When we started operating at Phase 1, we were having teething challenges and these

have been addressed,” he said.

“Dealing with specific types of traffic helps us to address issues based on specific

needs. In addition to that, together with other border stakeholders, we are targeting to

cut the trucks’ stay time at the border to at least three hours by the end of December

this year,” he said.

Upon completion, the border will use hi-tech systems including booms, cameras,

online clearance processes, drive-in commercial cargo scanners, and baggage

scanners for those using the bus and light vehicles’ terminals.

Speaking separately, Beitbridge residents said they had started witnessing the positive

effects that come with the border modernisation programme.

“We are seeing more people visiting the border town due to an efficient border post.

This will see more business in the town,” said Beitbridge town clerk, Mr Loud

Ramakgapola.

“The standard set in the border upgrade may spin over into setting the standards for

infrastructure in the town. In fact, we are likely to see developers benchmarking

against the high standard at the border which would be a positive development for the

town.”

Miss Eunice Mdau said: “We also expect tourists’ arrivals by road to increase because

the delays due to limited operating space were chasing away many travellers.

“The ambience at the border post has drastically improved. It presents a good image of

Zimbabwe to those visiting from South Africa.”

Chairman of the local pastors’ fraternal, Pastor Busani Moyo, said the Beitbridge

project had created a lot of employment for locals and that a working border will boost

the local municipality’s revenue collection capacity from residents and those in

transit.

The automation of service and people will now move faster after being assisted under

clearly defined systems.

Ms Rumbedzani Ribombo of Dulivhadzimu said she was excited to see improved

infrastructure including roads, water facilities, and housing around the town and the

border.Herald.

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