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.
A snap survey has shown that over the last three weeks, where people used to spend over three hours in queues to enter or leave South Africa, the time has been reduced to between 20 and 30 minutes.
In addition, it takes a traveller less than five minutes to be cleared using the recently introduced biometric clearance system.
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.
In separate interviews, travellers said the situation at the usually chaotic border had greatly improved.
“I have been using the border for five years and most of the time crossing to either country was like moving mountains. This year I spent less than 40 minutes to get all the border processes completed, including at immigration and vehicle clearance.
“However, I think the government must consider deploying more staff to the border permanently to avoid unnecessary delays,” said Mr Mxolisi Dube of Bulawayo, who is employed in the neighbouring country.
Another Zimbabwean based in South Africa, identified only as Chiedza said: “The efficiency is shocking. Three years ago I spent two days just to cross from South Africa to Zimbabwe. Today everything was done within one hour.”
Mr Lovemore Sithole was pleased to note that more service points outside the main hall had been opened.
“Accessing a TIP has been a perennial headache for many people. This time Zimra got it right. They have deployed more staff who are willing to deliver. Traffic has also been separated into buses, commercial, light vehicles and pedestrians.
“We also appreciate that there is coordination of movement of vehicles between South African and Zimbabwean authorities. This has helped,” he said.
Mr Mufaro Mukucha, who coordinates cross border buses at Beitbridge said although movement of mainly buses had been slow, things have started improving after border authorities simplified customs procedures.
He said although the number of buses and people had increased the situation was now under control.
“You will note that in the previous week, we had a near chaotic situation on the buses section. These were being delayed due to some customs procedures. There was actually an overflow of people.
“Since 15 December there has been an increased movement. However, it is pleasing to note that buses are now moving according to schedule,” he said.
A border official who preferred anonymity said authorities from Zimbabwe and South Africa have been exchanging notes on applying harmonised clearance processes to efficiently clear human and cargo traffic. “Operations and efficiency issues are being addressed through the regular inter-border meetings, where issues come up and solutions are arrived at instantly,” said the official.
The Assistant Regional Immigration Officer in charge of Beitbridge Mr Nqobile Ncube said they had adequately prepared for the busy period.
Source: The Chronicle