By Thupeyo Muleya Beitbridge Bureau
Cross border travellers using the Beitbridge Border Post have commended authorities on the Zimbabwean side for embracing the border efficiency management system that has seen a marked improvement in the movement of cargo and human traffic this festive season.
When The Herald visited the border post, travellers who used to spend over three hours in queues to enter or leave the country, were now taking 20 and 30 minutes to pass through the border.
On average authorities were spending less than 5 minutes on one traveller due to the recently introduced biometrics clearance system.
Motorists were also spending less time at the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (Zimra) counters where Temporary Import Permits (TIPs) for those using foreign registered vehicles are processed.
Zimra recently introduced the e-TIP which has made operations easier and also deployed relief staff from less busy stations to Beitbridge.
In separate interviews, travellers said the situation at the border had greatly improved compared to previous years.
“I have been using the border for five years and most of the time crossing into Zimbabwe during this period was a nightmare. This year I spent less than 40 minutes on all the processes including having my passport stamped and vehicle cleared.
“However, I think the Government must consider deploying more staff to the border permanently to avoid unnecessary delays,” said Mr Mxolisi Dube from Bulawayo, who is working in the neighbouring country.
Another Zimbabwean based in South Africa, identified only as Chiedza said, “The efficiency is shocking. Three years ago I spent two days just to cross from South Africa to Zimbabwe. Today everything was done within one hour.”
Another traveller Mr Lovemore Sithole said he was pleased to note that Zimra and Immigration officials had opened more serving points outside the main hall.
He said traffic was moving in an orderly manner and people were being directed to the different serving point by security guards.
“Accessing a TIP has been a perennial headache for many people. This time Zimra got it right. They have deployed more staff who are ready to work. The separation of vehicles into separate queues for buses, commercial, light vehicles has also helped.
“We also appreciate that there coordination of movement of vehicles by South African and Zimbabwean authorities. This has helped prevent the border area from being clogged,” he said.
Mr Mufaro Mukucha, who coordinates cross border buses at the border post, said the movement of buses had initially been slow but it had speeded up after border authorities simplified customs procedures.
He said although the number of buses and people had increased the situation was now under control.
“You will note that in the previous week, we had a near chaotic situation on the buses section. These were being delayed due to some customs procedures. There was actually an overflow of people.
“Since 15 December there has been an increased movement. However, it is pleasing to note that buses are now moving according to schedule,” he said.
A border official who preferred anonymity said authorities from Zimbabwe and South Africa have been exchanging notes on applying harmonised clearance processes to efficiently clear human and cargo traffic.
“Operations and efficiency issues are being addressed through the regular inter-border meetings, where issues come up and solutions are arrived at instantly,” said the official.
The Assistant Regional Immigration Officer in charge of Beitbridge Mr Nqobile Ncube said the situation on the ground was stable and that they had prepared adequately.
Source : The Herald