By Ndakaziva Majaka
HARARE – Zimbabwe is set to establish a National Ports Authority aimed at improving the state of infrastructure and clear bottlenecks at the country’s various ports of entry.
A ports authority is a government or quasi-government public authority formed by a legislative body to operate ports and other transportation infrastructure.
This comes after President Robert Mugabe on Wednesday said a National Border Ports Authority Bill would be tabled in parliament to pave way for the creation of the authority.
“To improve the state of infrastructure and clear the administrative bottlenecks at the country’s border posts, the National Border Ports Authority Bill will be introduced in parliament during the current session,” he said in a speech read on his behalf by Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa during the official opening of Parliament.
“Already, a model border post for the country has been developed. The process of selecting companies for such border posts is currently underway,” Mugabe said.
The president noted that the development was expected to lead to free tourist movement in the same manner it was a move targeted at attracting investors and facilitate for the easier movement of goods in and out of the country.
However, the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (Zimra) commissioner general, Geshom Pasi, is on record saying the country could not afford to create a Border Post Authority “as the very idea is unnecessary.”
The Zimra chief told a news conference early this year that Zimra was struggling to meet revenue collecting targets and there was no money to spare for the Ports project.
“So far, the authority has collected $468,53 million against a target of $542 million… while there have been talks by government of creating a Ports Authority but it is not necessary at the moment because we will be creating additional expenditure,” Pasi said then.
He also noted that it was not the very idea of a ports authority that translated into financial burden, but the structures relevant to the running of the authority.
“I have said this before, once you think of creating a Ports Authority, then you want to employ board, administration staff to maintain the ports and you want more money to make them functional,” he added.
According to Pasi, most revenue heads are under-performing, with Zimra missing the target revenue collection by six percent after collecting $1,66 billion for the first half of the year due to the shrinking formal economy, against a target of $1,76 billion.
Although most port authorities across the world are financially self-sustaining, the Zimra commissioner general said Zimbabwe’s proposed Port Authority would not be able to support itself for many years after its inception.
During his tenure as Transport minister Obert Mpofu, insisted that a Ports Authority was critical, with him indicating that his ministry was in charge of all the country’s ports of entry following the creation of the Border Post Authority.
Zimbabwe has 15 ports of entry which are being run by Zimra. However, the borders remain porous as travellers are faced with numerous challenges from corrupt officials to numerous clearing agents who cause confusion. Daily News