By Thupeyo Muleya
A call for full implementation of the one-stop-border post concept at Beitbridge is seen as a solution to the perennial congestion challenges that take place there, South Africa’s Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Home Affairs has said.
The congestion was bad during the past festive season and movement of commercial cargo and human traffic was delayed, with some people spending up to three days at the port of entry.
South Africa’s portfolio committee on Home Affairs visited Sadc’s busiest inland port on Tuesday and said it was critical for the Border Management Authority (BMA) to be operational to attend to administrative and other operational challenges.
Beitbridge Border Post is one of the major trade links between South Africa and the rest of Sadc, and even a number of Eastern and Central African countries, where over seven million travellers and an estimated 700 000 commercial trucks pass through annually.
In a statement, the committee’s chairperson, Advocate Bongani Bongo said the problems at Beitbridge should be addressed without delay.
“To alleviate the perpetual crisis at this border, the government must move with speed to implement an already agreed policy position to establish a one-stop border post.
“The tardiness in implementing this policy position is both unacceptable and a contributing factor to problems at this port of entry,” said Adv Bongo.
The one-stop border post would improve the efficiency of movement at Beitbridge.
Under the concept, travellers and goods will be cleared at one point for either entry or exit into both countries, as is the situation at Chirundu Border Post.
Presently, processes are being duplicated on both components of the border.
According to Adv Bongo, the efficiency in the movement of travellers and goods was critical to achieving the objectives of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA).
“Furthermore, the one-stop border post will ensure that South Africa and its neighbouring countries operate on a similar platform which will make crossing at the border easy.
“The Committee believes that the BMA will be an added force in handling the high volume of people and goods at the port of entry,” he said.
Adv Bongo said the border authority will help coordinate operations and solve the challenge of various departments that operate in silos.
He said they had established that poor planning on health management protocols had worsened the challenges at Beitbridge.
“According to the Committee, planning would have ensured that there is adequate provision of health officials to assist with health screening at Beitbridge.
“In addition, the fact that the Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) test in South Africa was cheaper, would have logically meant that more travellers would opt to take the test in South Africa instead of taking it in Zimbabwe.
“It is thus unacceptable that this simple fact was ignored as capacity was not adequate,” said Adv Bongo.
However, he said they had noted that their government had fixed some of the challenges that occurred during the festive season, adding that Pretoria remains committed to ensuring easy movement of people and goods. The Herald.