GOVERNMENT says it plans to engage a consultant to reorganise Beitbridge border post by the the end of March to plug leakages.
BY VICTORIA MTOMBA
Finance minister Patrick Chinamasa said the government was in the process of upgrading the border post to international standards, but it was necessary to put in place interim measures to alleviate the current challenges and also take advantage of the strategic position of the border post.
“Government will engage an independent border post expert to reorganise Beitbridge and the expert will work in collaboration Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (Zimra) officials and report to the chairperson of the Zimra board. This measure will be implemented during the first quarter of 2016,” he said.
Chinamasa said Treasury would identify a company to instal a closed circut television system that will be used to monitor adherence to border procedures by Zimra and other agencies. The company will report to the Zimra board chairperson and the minister.
Beitbridge border post is one of the busiest inland ports in sub-Saharan Africa and links the northern and southern corridors with a record 500 vehicles and 10 000 travellers passing through the port on a daily basis. However, the port lacks soft and hard infrastructure that includes information technology and inspection bays, among others, to deal with high volumes of traffic.
Travellers spend 6-18 hours at the port of entry to complete immigration and customs formalities and for commercial traffic to be cleared it takes about three days.
The delays in the clearance of cargo and travellers have resulted in increased cost of goods and services. Statistics show that 10 million tonnes of cargo pass through the corridor every year and the United Kingdom Department of International Development suggests that transports costs in Africa were between 30%-40% higher than other developing regions. This shows that transport costs are a drag on regional trade and economic development.