Zimbabwe, South Africa beef up border teams

Thupeyo Muleya, thupeyo.muleya@zimpapers.co.zw 

ZIMBABWE and South African border authorities have beefed up their teams in preparation for increased human and vehicular traffic during the Easter holidays.

South Africa has deployed 400 additional workers to its major border crossing with Zimbabwe at Beitbridge and has predicted that one million travellers will pass through its ports of entry/exit during the Easter weekend between March 29 and April 1.

Zimbabwean border officials increased their staff complement and activated the Border Efficiency Management plan used to clear traffic during the festive season.

The number of people crossing at the Beitbridge border post increases three-fold during major holidays, including Easter. The South African Border Management Authority has also employed a four-phase strategy to address potential challenges at the ports of entry and has deployed 400 additional junior border guards at its busiest ports of entry.

Information Technology

A total of seven million travellers use the Beitbridge Border Post yearly while 1 200 commercial trucks, 200 buses and 3 000 light vehicles cross the port of entry daily.

Regional Immigration Officer (RIO) in-charge of Beitbridge, Mr Joshua Chibundu, said they had adequate manpower to clear traffic at all the three terminals.

“Following the recent deployment of additional staff and the separation of traffic into the three terminals, we anticipate to have no problem in the clearance of large volumes of traffic associated with Easter holidays,” said Mr Chibundu.

“We have cancelled off and leave days so that we have all hands on the deck. In fact, there will be a standby team to ensure that we have adequate staff in the event that large volumes of travellers approach the border.”

Predictions from both Zimbabweans and South African officials are that traffic is likely to increase as many Christians, especially those going to Moria in South Africa, are set to flock in their numbers.

The Zion Christian Church (ZCC) in Limpopo province will open for the first time this year since the lifting of Covid-19 restrictions in the past two years.

Beitbridge border post

South Africa’s head of the Border Management Authority (BMA), Dr Mike Masiapato, said they were ready to deal with any influx in traffic, especially at Beitbridge.

“The Easter operational plan is supported by various other law enforcement structures such as the South African Police Service (SAPS), South African Revenue Service (SARS), South African National Defence Force (SANDF), Cross Border Road Transport Agency, and various traffic authorities,” said Dr Masiapato.

“As is the norm, this Easter Operational Plan contains four phases, which include planning, execution, demobilisation and the sustenance phase.”

He said statistics for the 2023 Easter period showed that ports of entry, which facilitated the majority of the people were Beitbridge to Zimbabwe, Lebombo to Mozambique, Groblers Bridge to Botswana, Maseru Bridge and Ficksburg to Lesotho, OR Tambo International Airport, Cape Town International Airport, Oshoek to Eswatini, Kopfontein to Botswana and Caledonspoort to Lesotho.

Dr Masiapato said they were making use of the inter-border management systems with Lesotho, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, eSwatini and Botswana to enhance operations and in some instances they had agreed on extending operating hours at certain critical ports, which are not operating on a 24-hour basis

“Information Technology (IT) support teams have also been deployed to immediately address any kind of system glitches on the ground.

“As in the previous deployment, the Department of Public Works and Infrastructure (DPWI) has been engaged to provide additional infrastructure such as temporary lighting, special temporary barricades, jojo tanks for the provision of water to the travellers at selected land ports and generators to ensure an uninterrupted power system.” —@tupeyo

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