By Thupeyo Muleya
The Government is formally engaging South Africa to speed up the clearance of both commercial and light vehicles at Beitbridge Border Post.
Truckers are experiencing long delays before crossing into the neighbouring country due to slower Covid-19 screening processes that are being carried out at the border.
The development has seen the movement of mainly cargo delaying by at least 48 hours and in the last five days, haulage trucks have become a menace on the Zimbabwe side forming long queues of more than 8km along roads leading to Bulawayo and Harare.
However, all the trucks would have completed the clearance processes in Zimbabwe since they are done at the Document Processing Centres (DPC) in Masvingo, Bulawayo and Harare before they proceed to respective ports of entry.
Home Affairs Minister, Kazembe Kazembe said during the tour of the Sub-National Joint Operation Command (Joc) in Beitbridge yesterday that he would discuss the way forward with his counterpart in South Africa, Dr Aaron Motsoaledi.
“We have taken note of the state of affairs as outlined by the border authorities and will be engaging my counterpart on a diplomatic footing with the help of our embassy and foreign affairs office.
“When we met recently to lay plans to create a seamless passage for both human traffic and commercial cargo, we agreed to continue liaising on issues of mutual understanding,” said the minister.
The two ministers recently met in Musina to harmonise management and health systems at Beitbridge Border Post so that more people can cross the Limpopo during the festive season without health risks and without compromising immigration and customs checks.
According to Immigration and Customs authorities at Beitbridge, joint engagements are ongoing at inter-border agencies level.
“We have engaged our counterparts so that they may streamline Covid-19 screening processes, because presently that is being done from one central point (at the foot and mouth checkpoint) and this has seen South Africa failing to absorb the commercial traffic we are sending that side.
“Under the new work environment, the first point of interaction for travellers is now at Port Health and not immigration, as was the case before the pandemic,” said Mr Nqobile Ncube, the Assistant Regional Immigration officer-in-charge of Beitbridge.
Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (Zimra) Regional Manager, Beitbridge, Mr Innocent Chikuni said all the trucks had been cleared on the Zimbabwe side and were being released across the border in batches.
“We have gone hi-tech and these trucks only travel to the border when documentation is complete. That’s the case, but then the South Africans are saying they have limited space on their commercial side,” he said.
An average 1 500 commercial trucks are processed at the country and Sadc’s busiest inland port daily.
The department of immigration is processing about 5 000 people daily and this is expected to peak to 18 000 when schools close and some companies have an annual shut down in both countries. The Chronicle