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Chirundu border nightmare

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The $20 million pilot one-stop-border project at Chirundu has reportedly failed to live to its billing as cargo destined for either Zimbabwe or Zambia still takes about three days before it gets cleared.

This was revealed to the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Budget, Finance and Investment Promotion during a visit to the border post last Friday.

The committee heard the pilot project, launched in 2009 to ease congestion at the border post, still faced a lot of logistical challenges.

Station manager for the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority at the border post, Tichaona Phiri, told the committee they were facing serious staff shortages, lack of office and accommodation space for different departments working at the border post, among a myriad other problems.

“There is no air conditioning on the Zimbabwean side of the border, resulting in the Zambians refusing to come and work in our offices until we have sorted out the problem,” said Phiri.

“There are serious accommodation problems for staff housing and office accommodation for clearing agents, resulting in trucks getting cleared after three days.

Failure to bring in more staff at the one-stop border is because there is nowhere for them to stay,” he said.

He told the committee in a normal set up, the border should run 24 hours a day with three shifts per day, but that was impossible because of staff shortage.

“We do not have a hospital on the Zimbabwean side, but on the Zambian side there is one and that is where our people end up going for treatment. We have a clinic, which has obsolete equipment and there are no medicines. There is no ambulance to take sick people to Kariba,” Phiri said

Sergeant Martin Machanja of the Zimbabwe National Army and Assistant Inspector Noah Vimbe of the Zimbabwe Republic Police said their departments had inadequate accommodation and transport facilities.

A clearing Agent, Michael Murombo said they were facing challenges in terms of entering data on computers because the infrastructure at the border did not allow them to work during the day.

“We end up working at night when the system is not overloaded and it results in us taking three days to clear 35 trucks,” Murombo said.

The scanner used to search and identify goods carried by trucks was also not working on the Zimbabwean side.

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