No plans for new border post with South Africa
BULAWAYO — Government has no intention to construct a second border post between Zimbabwe and South Africa to help ease congestion at the Beitbridge Border Post.
This was revealed by the deputy Home Affairs Minister, Obedingwa Mguni, in response to calls for a new border in the wake of the congestion at the country’s busiest point of entry.
“Where can that border post be situated, considering that our boundary with South Africa is not even more than 200km long; it is not just feasible to have it,” he said.
“These other border posts that we share with Botswana can be utilised by those travelling to South Africa especially by people living in the southern parts of the country in order to minimise congestion at Beitbridge. I think we need to educate our people on that. Those from Manicaland instead of coming to Beitbridge should also use Chikwalakwala Border Post and travel to South Africa via Mozambique,” he said.
Instead, government is contemplating building an additional bridge at the Beitbridge Border Post to ease congestion at the port of entry, to allow vehicles to use different bridges to enter and exit the country.
Plans mooted some years ago to establish a one-stop border post in Beitbridge to ease congestion have meanwhile also progressed at a snail’s space.
Beitbridge caters for at least 25 000 travellers and 10 000 cars during its peak operating period of the Christmas festive season.
In comparison with neighbouring Botswana, there are now four ports of entry between Zimbabwe and Botswana namely Plumtree/Ramokgwebana, Maitengwe, Mphoengs/Matsiloje and Mlambapheli/Mmamabaka.
Zambia and Mozambique both have more than one border post each with Zimbabwe.
South Africa’s ambassador to Zimbabwe, Mphakama Mbete recently told the Financial Gazette that it would be better to turn Beitbridge Border Post into a one-stop border post.
Mbete admitted that the work to reconfigure Beitbridge had progressed at a snail’s pace and it was important for significant progress to now be made in turning it into a one-stop border post.
“We are working very hard on that, as a matter of fact not long from now there will be a delegation from senior officials from the (South African) Department of Home Affairs led by the director-general who will come here to meet their counterparts. Among other things, is the discussion on how to move forward the work on Beitbridge towards making it a one-stop border post. We are working on that and are hoping that the agreements that will be reached between this senior delegation of our Ministry of Home Affairs will feed into the bi-national commission later in the year towards making this very important port of entry of Beitbridge, towards being a high level, efficient and effective port of entry,” said Mbete.
Mbete also noted that it would be the prerogative of the Bi-National Commission, between Zimbabwe and South Africa, to pronounce a specific timeline on the plans to turn Beitbridge into a one-stop border post, after the two Heads of State have met.
Beitbridge Border Post, the region’s busiest inland port of entry, has been constantly flagged down for bottlenecks that hamper trade activities, as delays in processing the movement of goods, human and vehicular traffic are lasting several days during peak periods.
The prolonged delays at the Beitbridge border post have seen a new trend develop among travellers in transit, who are now preferring to use the Plumtree border post which is less congested.
— Additional reporting by Assistant Bureau Chief.
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