SA Border Post Runs Out OF Cargo Parking Space

Despite Zimbabwe upgrading their Beitbridge Border Post to become one of the most efficient and modernised in Africa, commercial cargo continues to pile up as neighbours South Africa run out of space ahead of the festive season.

The development has forced South Africa to negotiate with their neighbours to assist in handling the situation. A sizeable number of trucks that have been cleared on the Zimbabwean side are finding it difficult to exit the South African border and Zimbabwe has been asked to take care of the cleared cargo which they will then release in batches of 20s and 30s.

South Africa has created more space for noncommercial traffic at their border to avoid congesting the N1 highway.

Beitbridge’s revenue has more than doubled where trucks used to queue for kilometres on either side of the border with Zimbabwe, now they are cleared in two to three hours.
An official from the border post confirmed the development and said all was well on their side, but they had to assist their neighbours.
“What is happening is that our counterparts have created more clearance points for non-commercial traffic which has drastically increased and they have asked us to hold the trucks and send them in batches of 20 to 30 trucks at a time;” said the official.

Beitbridge border post has seen Zimbabwe’s stance to modernise it into three terminals for US$300 million to cater for commercial, buses and light vehicles, and pedestrians pay dividends with the customs yard in Zimbabwe now able to hold up to 200 trucks at any given time.

This publication came across commercial cargo destined for regional and international markets piling up on the Zimbabwean side at Beitbridge Border Post after the South African side ran out of parking space and critics blame South Africa for not taking a cue from their Zimbabwean counterparts in modernizing their side of the border, yet it is good news for making extra revenue on the Zimbabwean side.

Some truck drivers said they had spent more than 24 hours trying to cross into South Africa.

Stephen van Zeel, SA’s Border Management Authority spokesperson confirmed these developments adding they had opened more workstations at the border post to clear the rising non-commercial traffic.

South Africa cleared higher volumes of traffic on Sunday after main companies carried out annual shutdowns on Friday and Saturday.

Van Zeel said their main objective was to cater for the pre-festive season movement, the post-festive season period and the re-opening of schools in the New Year,
“We are ready to handle the traffic through the Beitbridge border post where we have started to witness an increase in non-commercial traffic,” he said.

“So, we have deployed more immigration officers from less busy stations and opened more work stations and clearing booths within the border.

“In addition to that, we have created more traffic lanes to ensure that vehicles do not clog the border and the major highway linking the border and Musina town.”

It takes less than three hours for trucks to clear on both the Zimbabwean and South African side of the border under normal circumstances.

Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (Zimra) uses the preclearance system where imports or exports are processed at the Documented Processing Centres (DPC) before they reach the desired port of entry or exit.

Commercial bills of entries are being processed electronically at Harare, Masvingo and Bulawayo DPC under this current set-up.

The trucks are then given the green light to the port of entry or exit where authorities there only check for conformity when these bills of entry are processed.

The Beitbridge border between South Africa and Zimbabwe was not so long ago reviled as a place of suffering, with queues of truckers and travellers stretching for kilometres on either side waiting to cross.

With increasing summer temperatures, soaring into the 40s, in 2020, the Road Freight Association reported that four truck drivers died waiting to cross the border. The cause of their deaths was unclear, though lack of access to food and water appears to have had something to do with it. The New phenomenon that has revolutionized the border post from being the worst to being the very best in Africa is now something South Africa must emulate to improve efficiency on its side of the border instead of living off its neighbour at the busiest of seasons, the festive Christmas and New Year holidays.

Ross Moyo

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