Cabinet has approved the upgrading of Beitbridge Border Post, with talks for a loan of $239 million already underway.
BY XOLISANI NCUBE
Transport and Infrastructure Development minister, Jorum Gumbo confirmed that talks are underway for a loan deal so that the country’s busiest border post could, be upgraded to international standards.
“The idea is to ensure we close leakages and improve trade. This project would facilitate improved movement of goods and people,” he said.
Gumbo said, already, Cabinet has approved that Zimborders, a local consortium, be the contractor for the project.
Although he could not disclose the actual upgrading that is to be undertaken by his ministry, Zimborders was given the tender in 2016, but work could not start due to infighting within Zanu PF and former President Robert Mugabe’s government.
After the ascendency of Emmerson Mnangagwa to the presidency last November, the local company has been mandated to undertake works on the country’s busiest border post.
Government insiders state that the upgrading works will include the construction of a new bridge, rehabilitation of the weighbridge and upgrading of communication and security systems.
The project seeks to upgrade the road network to and from the bridge, installing gate control infrastructure and erecting a perimeter fence around the post. Other facilities to be upgraded include the parking areas, commercial centre and staff accommodation.
The border post will also be computerised and have its lighting systems upgraded.
Beitbridge Border Post is one of the busiest inland ports in sub-Saharan Africa and links the northern and southern corridors, with 500 vehicles and 10 000 travellers passing through the port daily.
However, the port lacks soft and hard infrastructure that includes information technology and inspection bays, among others, to deal with high volumes of traffic have resulted in a lot of inconvenience to travellers.
Travellers spend between six and 18 hours at the port of entry to complete immigration and customs formalities.
The clearance of commercial traffic can take up to three days. The border is one of the most porous in the entire region, something which has made Zimbabwe’s counterpart in South Africa uneasy.