By Mashudu Netsianda
The South African government has assured travellers passing through Beitbridge Border Post during the festive season that they would not endure long hours at the border as mechanisms have been put in place to decongest the entry port ahead of Christmas Day.
Beitbridge Border Post is synonymous with long winding queues, with travellers mostly Zimbabweans, spending hours at the South African side of the border awaiting clearances by immigration and customs officials.
In a statement posted on its website, the South African Home Affairs said its Minister Dr Siyabonga Cwele last week toured Beitbridge Border Post to monitor and observe the levels of service delivery at the port of entry.
“I am happy with the operations I saw at Beitbridge and I am confident that the measures we have put in place will assist to ease travel for visitors using this port. We don’t want people to spend a lot of time here at the border whether they are departing or arriving,” said Dr Cwele.
According to the statement, Dr Cwele, who was touring the border with officials from the Musina Municipality, expressed satisfaction with the cooperation among various agencies operating at the border.
“We’ll continue to have increased capacity at Beitbridge Border Post and all our other border posts until 9 January 2019. We appeal to travellers to ensure that they have all the relevant supporting documents which should be legible and recently certified,” said Dr Cwele.
He said the Department of Home Affairs deployed 450 additional employees at its various border posts with Beitbridge Border Post receiving the highest number of immigration officers to manage the increase in the number of travellers.
“One of the biggest tasks of the Department of Home Affairs is to facilitate ease of travel at our ports of entry. This has a big impact on tourism, trade and investment. This could ultimately improve economic growth,” said Dr Cwele.
The Minister’s spokesperson, Mr Siya Qoza, said during his visit, the minister and his delegations were briefed on the port operations by staff members of some of the government institutions operating at the border.
Beitbridge Border Post is the busiest inland port of entry in sub Saharan Africa. It is the country’s busiest land port and most of the departmental staff which has been deployed to border posts to manage the expected increases in traveller movements are at Beitbridge.
Mr Qoza said more than 200 000 travellers have been assisted at the Beitbridge Border Post between December 1 and 17.
The number is expected to increase ahead of Christmas and after New Year when travellers, mostly injiva would be flocking back to South Africa.
Zimbabweans and travellers from South Africa have commended authorities at Beitbridge Border Post for embracing border efficiency management systems which has resulted in improved service this festive season.
Motorists are also spending less time at the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (Zimra) counters where Temporary Import Permits (TIPs) for those driving foreign-registered vehicles are processed.
Zimra recently introduced the e-TIP which has made operations easier. It also redeployed staff from less busy stations to Beitbridge.
The Assistant Regional Immigration Officer in charge of Beitbridge Border Post, Mr Nqobile Ncube said they had adequately prepared for the busy period.
He said they have harmonised their operations with their South African counterparts to speed up the clearance of travellers during the festive season. The Chronicle