Zimbabwean authorities have reactivated the border efficiency management system as seasonal traffic starts to build up at Beitbridge Border Post ahead of the Christmas and New Year holidays.
The festive season usually sees a lot more traffic and things have improved at Beitbridge following the automation and transformation of the port of entry by the Government in partnership with Zimborders Consortium at a cost of US$300 million.
Authorities are now splitting buses, commercial and light vehicles as well as pedestrians.
As a result, border law enforcement departments and agencies have been successfully completing the festive period operations, with few incidents reported.
The regional immigration officer-in-charge of southern region (Zimbabwe) Mr Joshua Chibundu said they were ready to roll and will continue to review operations depending on the situation on the ground.
“During this past week, we realised a movement of people totalling about 19 000,” he said.
“However, as the Department of Immigration our counters will be adequately manned with all leaves and time offs cancelled.
“Travellers are advised to present themselves at immigration counters to avoid being fraudulently cleared using fake stamps. Immigration does not require the service of an agent, so no middleman is required during our clearance processes.”
Mr Chibundu said they were also firm on the ground with the support of the police and other border agencies to curb irregular migration south or north.
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.
Zimborders Consortium chief executive, Mr François Diedrechsen, said the flow of traffic was smooth.
Under its partnership with the Government, the consortium is managing and maintaining the border infrastructure for the next 17 years, before handing it to the Government.
“At the moment, traffic flow is good and smooth, the non-commercial traffic is what escalates dramatically for the festive. Commercial traffic tends to drop off during that time,” he said.
“Zimborders in conjunction with Zimra and other Government agencies have workshopped various initiatives to ensure there is a smooth flow and a cracking experience as much as possible.
“This includes the deployment of additional staffing, activation of the green routes amongst other strategies.”
Mr Diedrechsen said it was important for those wishing to travel through Beitbridge Border Post to ensure that they have their necessary paperwork.
He said where possible people should use the pre-clearance facilities so as to expedite their time at the border.
The pre-clearance systems involve declaring imports and paying duty and the necessary levies prior to one’s arrival at the desired port of entry, thus cutting physical border processes upon arrival.
Police officer commanding Beitbridge district, Chief Superintendent Tichaona Nyongo, said they were carrying out a number of operations in the area to reduce criminal activities during the festive season
“We have major roadblocks at Makhado (Bulawayo Road) and Bubi (Harare Road) and we are not only going to rely on those two,” he said.
“The traffic blitz will be rolled out to check on general compliance with the dictates of the Road Traffic Act and Road Transportation Act. We will impound all vehicles without number plates in line with the law.
“At the same time, we are encouraging the public not to use unregistered motor vehicles as transport during this holiday because in most instances they end up being violated by criminals.”
Chief Supt Nyongo said they were working with other stakeholders including the Zimbabwe National Road Administration and the Vehicle Inspection Department to ensure that all vehicles carrying goods and people were roadworthy and fully compliant with regulations.
He said commercial trucks heading to South Africa should use the Bulawayo-Beitbridge border post highway.
“No heavy truck is allowed to enter the roundabout from town, we want to make sure that area is not congested blocking north bound traffic from South Africa,” said Chief Supt Nyongo.
“We won’t tolerate those breaking these orders.
“Let me reiterate that all those whom we find with un-registered vehicles, will be subjected to thorough investigations and we won’t release them until after 15 January next year. As the police our festive period runs from 15 December this year to 15 January next year.”