The government has started implementing an empty operation at the new commercial cargo terminal at the Beitbridge border crossing, which is being modernized at a cost of $ 300 million.
So far, the Zimborders Consortium implementing the project has spent US $ 65 million on pre-start-up works and construction of roads, weighbridges, warehouses and upgrading ICT facilities.
The permanent secretary of the Ministry of Transport and Infrastructure Development, Engineer Theodius Chinyanga, said the cargo terminal will be officially opened on October 6.
He has already said that Zimbabwe and South Africa have opened a dialogue on the possibility of building another bridge to improve traffic flow and facilitate regional and international trade.
Eng Chinyanga yesterday led a team of government agencies in an inspection of civil works ahead of the official opening next month.
“We are here to check the progress of the civil works with all government agencies,” he said.
“This project is being implemented in three phases and we are happy to see that our partner has met the deadlines.
“The modernization initiative is being rolled out in three phases which include the commercial freight terminal (phase one), buses and light motor vehicles, and the pedestrian terminals in phases 2 and 3 respectively.”
It is expected that the new commercial cargo terminal will house immigration, customs, police and all border agencies (housed) in the building.
The counters have been set up in sequence so that customers do not have to move from one building to another.
Eng Chinyanga said, “We have already started to implement a dry circuit and the commercial trucks have been rerouted to follow the new route through the new facilities.
“Over the coming week we will see service people move from the old buildings to the new terminal. “
Eng Chinyanga said they do not anticipate any major challenges at this time as they will keep the old buildings in working order with selected services.
Zimborders chief executive François Diedrechsen said they expected to complete the pending border modernization work next year.
“We are moving to phase two which includes the construction of the bus terminal, the light vehicle terminal and the pedestrian terminals.
“Other works include upgrading the sewage and water supply systems in the town of Beitbridge and building 264 housing units for border officials,” he said.
ICT Subcommittee Chairman Shami Moyo said the automation of the modernized border post will involve the use of cameras and more paperless transactions.
Travelers and carriers will use a one-stop payment system to reduce time spent at the border.
“The idea is to go high-tech and make more use of prepayment and preclearance systems. People have to spend as little time as possible to go through this port of entry,” Moyo said.