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Revenue boost as Forbes border opens 24/7

THE upgrading of Forbes Border Post to run 24 hours has been rolled out smoothly, with 51 commercial trucks and 105 people being served on the first night.

Both Forbes and Machipanda border posts are now operating round the clock starting on Monday, thanks to the efforts of Zimbabwean and Mozambican authorities.

Stakeholders welcomed the development, which they said was long overdue, saying it will increase business and revenue inflows for the two countries.

Of late, long winding queues of commercial trucks had become a common sight in Mutare, resulting in congestion, especially along Park Road and the flyover section along the Mutare-Chimanimani Road.

Forbes Border Post, which was initially established as a tourist clearing point before independence, has now evolved to become one of the busiest ports of entry in the country, thanks to its proximity to the busy seaport of Beira.

The border post serves almost half of the SADC region and is clearing about 550 haulage trucks every day.

This week saw Zimbabwe and Mozambique transport authorities holding bilateral meetings on cooperation in transport and infrastructure as they fine-tune modalities for the two border posts to run for 24 hours a day without any glitches.

On Monday, a team of senior and technical officials from the Mozambican Ministry of Transport and Communications arrived in Zimbabwe for the meetings.

The team was led by Permanent Secretary in the Mozambican Ministry of Transport and Communications, Mr Ambrósio Sitoe.

Transport and Infrastructural Development Permanent Secretary, Engineer Joy Makumbe, who is also the chairperson of the Forbes Border Committee on 24-hours Operation, hailed the engagement between Zimbabwe and Mozambique.

Engineer Makumbe said: “This is an opportunity that has presented itself to us as we have quite a number of issues we need to discuss so that we build our economies and move forward. Our bilateral relations continue to be the bedrock for socio-economic development between our two countries.

“In this regard, it is quite fitting for us to have this multi-stakeholder meeting so that we can discuss the interrelated issues that promote integration. These include development in all transport modes to allow for seamless movement of persons and goods across our borders. We are taking a bold step towards upgrading and modernising our border posts.

“This includes the Forbes-Machipanda Border Post, which once complete will be upgraded to a One-Stop Border Post.

“Zimbabwe is landlocked and as a country, Mozambique has continued to provide us with support and facilitation to access the sea through the Beira and Maputo sea ports,” said Engineer Makumbe.

In November last year, President Mnangagwa joined Mozambican President Filipe Nyusi in witnessing the commissioning of the rehabilitated US$200 million Beira-Machipanda railway line.

Speaking at the commissioning of the railway line in Manica, Mozambique, President Mnangagwa said not only would the rehabilitated 318-kilometre railway line reduce transport costs, but it would also ease congestion at Forbes Border Post in Mutare.

Zimra’s corporate affairs executive, Mr Gladman Njanji said: “The roll out started smoothly with 51 commercial trucks being served during the night for both outgoing and incoming cargo. No challenges were encountered as preparations by all border agencies had been done in good time.

“The increased operating time will result in increased volume of trade every day. An expanded working day implies more time for effective staff engagement and that results in operational efficiency.

“Revenue will increase due to an increase in cross-border passage of goods,” said Mr Njanji.

He said on a busy day, they expect to clear 700 incoming trucks and 800 outgoing trucks, all these spread over 24 hours of cross border movement.

Regional immigration officer for the eastern region, Mr Richard Tambandini also confirmed that everything went according to plan on Monday.

“Everything went according to plan and we are happy with this development. Our systems are in place and no challenges were encountered.

“We expect the volumes to increase with time as people become accustomed to the new development,” said Mr Tambandini.

Shipping and Forwarding Agents Association of Zimbabwe’s branch chairperson, Mrs Priscilla Murewanhema welcomed the development and promised that her association will be up to the task.

“We welcome this development as this will reduce congestion at the border. This will also ensure the fast movement of goods. We will also improve all our operational modalities. We are prepared to work 24 hours and ensure that all goods are moved as fast as possible,” she said.

“We hope that Zimra and GMS will also help in improving the lighting system at the Mutare Dry Port as there are some goods that need physical inspection before being cleared,” she said.

A truck driver, Mr Jordan Shava said the extended hours at Forbes Border Post will reduce delays in transporting cargo to and from Beira.

“This is a welcome development. We were spending too much time on the road, especially our ports of entry. Now that Chirundu and Forbes Border Posts are running 24 hours, we will spend less time on the road. This is good for us as we will have more time to rest and be with our families. It is stressful to be away from your family for a long time. This will also reduce the drivers’ fatigue.

“We hope all the border clearing agencies will upgrade their systems so that the cargo clearing is done efficiently,” said Mr Shava.

Herald

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