The Sunday News
Thupeyo Muleya, Beitbridge Bureau
THE volume of vehicular and human traffic has surged significantly at Beitbridge Border Post as many Zimbabweans based in the neighbouring country have started trooping back.
It is understood that south bound (departures) traffic started increasing on Thursday last week as the festive season winds up.
Long winding queues of vehicles stretching for almost 2km into the border town along the major road leading to Bulawayo and Harare, have become a common feature. Sunday News understands that border authorities are clearing an average of 3 000 light motor vehicles and 150 buses going into South Africa daily. The police have also deployed traffic cops who are working with a private security company to manage traffic within the border post and the town’s major roads.
Further, immigration and customs departments from both Zimbabwe and South Africa have opened up more clearing points and beefed up their staff to enhance a speedy flow of traffic.
Buses, light vehicles, commercial trucks and pedestrians have also been separated into different categories.
“We have come up with a raft of measures to ensure that travellers spend the shortest possible time at the border, though the main challenge is limited space for light vehicles and buses on the South African side of the border.
“Most of the vehicles you are seeing here have been cleared for passage and we are only waiting for South Africa to create parking space for them to proceed,” said a border official.
The official said they were applying harmonised clearance system so as to avoid clogging the border with travellers and vehicles.
The Assistant Regional Immigration officer-in-charge of Beitbridge, Mr Nqobile Ncube, said they had engaged their South African counterparts with a view to increasing the pace at which people and vehicles were cleared for passage into the neighbouring country.
He said most people had been cleared both in Zimbabwe and South Africa and only vehicles with the drivers were still on the Zimbabwean component due to lack of parking space south of the Limpopo River.
“The volumes are high, we are clearing an average of 25 000 people and we expect more today (yesterday). We are constantly liaising with our South African counterparts to expedite the movement of people, especially those travelling in buses which have taken much of the parking space at the border. They have assured us that they are beefing up their staff. As usual we advise people to travel early to avoid unnecessary congestion,” said Mr Ncube.
He said they had set the festive period between 3 December 2019 and 13 January and harmonised operations with their South African counterparts.
An average of 15 000 travellers including arrivals and departures are cleared daily at the border and the figures increase to 30 000 during peak periods.