UPGRADING of the Beitbridge Border Post is set to commence by mid-May, Vice-President Constantino Chiwenga has said.
BY MTHANDAZO NYONI
Officially opening the Zimbabwe International Business Conference held in Bulawayo on Wednesday, Chiwenga said almost everything was set for the project to kick start.
“The modernisation of our border posts, we have taken it to be of the highest priority,” he said.
“You are aware we started with Kazungula. The three countries, Zimbabwe, Zambia and Botswana have agreed and we now jointly construct Kazungula Bridge.
“We are also to begin to construct the border post at Kazungula, but the first priority for this is going to be on the Beitbridge Border Post, which was awarded and God willing, we must start the construction by mid-May. We will do that concurrently once the feasibility is completed on the Kazungula, which we think it will be completed pretty soon. They must start almost at the same time.
“We don’t want to delay any of our visitors for any longer; four hours is quite long. We don’t want to delay them for such a time.”
Recently, Cabinet approved the upgrading of Beitbridge Border Post at a cost of $239 million.
The government seeks to upgrade the road network to and from the bridge, instal gate control infrastructure and erect 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, which has 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.