By Thupeyo Muleya
Authorities at Beitbridge Border Post have come up with a raft of measures to deal with an increase in both human and vehicle traffic as Zimbabweans prepare for Christmas and New Year festivities.
Scores of people have started travelling between Zimbabwe and South Africa for the holidays.
Assistant Regional Immigration officer-in-charge of administration at Beitbridge Border Post, Mr Innocent Tawanda Hamandishe, said yesterday they had deployed adequately and were ready to roll.
“We have come up with a raft of measures to ensure the smooth flow of traffic. We have a staff complement of 66 immigration officers, which is adequate to deal with an increase in the volume of both human and vehicular traffic,” said Mr Hamandishe.
“Traffic has since been separated into buses, returning residents, visitors, transit, motorists and commercial. Furthermore, we have opened up more service points outside the main immigration hall,” he said.
Mr Hamandishe said they had aligned operations with their South African counterparts with effect from December 8 to January 16.
He said through the Border Post Efficiency Management Committee, they had come up with a consolidated festive season plan to ensure that traffic was cleared efficiently.
“Those travelling in buses will be assisted through the tagging system (cleared on first come first served basis,” he said.
Mr Hamandishe said they had also created an express route for motorists who wanted to access gate passes from the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority.
He said travellers were being directed to the various service points as they entered the border post and that requisite directional signs were being erected.
“We have suspended all off and leave days for our members of staff so as to ensure that we operate at full strength throughout the festive season.
“We anticipate the volume of traffic to peak between 22 and 24 December as more people come into the country. The departure peak period has also been set for 2 and 3 January next year when most people working or studying in South Africa will be returning,” said Mr Hamandishe.
He called on the travelling public to cooperate with border authorities to ensure a speedy flow of traffic.
He said the situation was still manageable at the moment.
Mr Hamandishe said they were clearing an average of 25 000 people per day (including 15 000 on arrivals and 10 000 on departures).
He said during off peak periods they cleared 15 000 people per day including both arrivals and departures.
An official from Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (Zimra) said yesterday that they had received an extra 25 workers from less busy stations.
Zimra has 307 employees at Beitbridge but requires 526 to operate at full strength.
South Africa has also deployed more immigration and customs officers at Beitbridge and extended operating hours at most of their ports of entry which close at 10pm during off peak periods to 24 hours for the duration of the festive season.
Beitbridge Border Post is one of the busiest ports of entry in SADC where around 170 000 people, 2 100 buses, 14 000 to 15 000 haulage trucks and 25 000 private cars pass through on a monthly basis. The Herald