Thupeyo Muleya–Beitbridge Office
THE newly renovated commercial terminal, built as part of the $ 300 million Beitbridge border crossing modernization project, is expected to open to commercial traffic on October 6.
SADC’s busiest inland port of entry is being modernized through a 17-year Build, Operate and Transfer (BOT) agreement between the government and the Zimborders Consortium.
As part of this initiative, the government provides technical support while Zimborders, through various financial institutions, funds civil works.
The current border, which handles at least 1,200 commercial heavy trucks, 3,500 light vehicles, 120 buses and 15,000 travelers daily, is expected to carry five times its capacity when completed next year.
Zimborders Managing Director François Diedrechsen said yesterday that the port of entry was being transformed into three phases.
“Phase 1 will be completed in its entirety by the commissioning date of October 6 this year and this concerns all buildings, warehouses, roads, new weighbridges and new main cargo terminal, among others,” a- he declared.
Mr Diedrechsen said under the new setup, Zimborders, in partnership with the government, would collect a nominal access charge on commercial freight transport.
This, he said, would be done so that they would be able to maintain border infrastructure and service loans from financial institutions.
“With regard to phases 2 and 3, these will include the construction of new terminals for buses, light vehicles and pedestrians.
“They will open at different times at the end of next year. Thus, the right of access to the border toll will only be payable by freight vehicles at this stage, ”said Diedrechsen.
At present, the Zimbabwe National Roads Administration (ZINARA) only collects the New Limpopo Bridge (NLB) toll charges on motor traffic and adjustments are expected to be made soon.
It is expected that under the new standard operating procedures (SOPs), Zimborders will operate the new traffic flow systems and maintain the infrastructure at the border.
Mr Diedrechsen said they will hire a total of 111 people for fee collection and have already started the process. This is in addition to the 485 hired for civil works during the three-year project.
“We have already recruited 40 people for this function and that excludes construction, maintenance and ICT flow systems personnel. The remaining 71 will be hired in the next two phases.
“The money will be collected at the entrance posts of the new terminal and also at a kiosk in the terminal. We will adopt prepayments and credit card facilities to ensure smooth traffic, ”he said.
Mr Diedrechsen said the additional border access costs would be significantly offset by the reduction in transit time for truckers at the border.
“This will create a substantial saving for truckers and thus make the route cheaper and more convenient due to the time saved to cross the border,” Diedrechsen added.
As part of the same project, Zimborders is building 264 houses for border workers, a fire station, upgrading roads and cross-linking water and sewer infrastructure for the town of Beitbridge.
These are in various stages of construction.