Milestone in the opening of the new Beitbridge bus station
Thupeyo Muleya Beitbridge Office
A NEW bus terminal which has been constructed at the Beitbridge border post as part of the ongoing $300 million modernization program opened to traffic yesterday.
Since the start of the project 18 months ago, the efficiency of the border and its management system, which had become an ongoing headache as traffic piled up on both sides of the border, has not stopped. to improve.
The Beitbridge border post is being transformed in three phases under a 17.5-year concession involving the government and the Zimborders consortium.
Under the agreement, the consortium will manage the infrastructure and recover the money invested through the collection of user fees, while the government will provide land and technical services.
The project is being rolled out in three phases with the cargo terminal, ICT facilities and roads in the first phase; bus and light motor vehicle terminals in phase two, and off-site works including upgrading of water and sewerage facilities in the town of Beitbridge in the final phase.
Zimborders Consortium Managing Director Mr Francois Diedrechsen said that they have completed the first phase and part of the second phase and therefore the focus is on the work of the inner port which is the vehicle terminal light.
“We have staggered the construction work to ensure that civil works do not disrupt operations at this port of entry.”
The flow of commercial traffic has improved since October last year with trucks increasing from around 600 to 900 per day.
The volume of commercial cargo will continue to increase, especially after the completion of all the inner port works.
Mr Diedrechsen said they are now focusing on building the light vehicle terminal which will be completed by the end of November this year.
“On the off-port works, we are nearing completion of the fire station, animal factory and quarantine centre, 11.4 megalitre water tank, sewer oxidation dam and 220 staff accommodation. Most of this work will be completed by April next year.
Diedrechsen said carriers and travelers won’t feel the pain of border user fees because the cost will be offset by improved efficiency.
The consortium’s managing director, Mr. Nqobile Ncube, said he employed more than 1,600 Zimbabweans throughout the project.
He said that in addition to job creation, the community of Beitbridge will also benefit from key infrastructure including a fire station, sewer oxidation dam and improved water infrastructure under the out-port works.
“There is a community enrichment aspect to this project. You will realize that we have created 1,600 jobs for Zimbabweans,” Mr Ncube said.
“It not only brings remuneration to the employees but also skills transfers, given that when the contractor is finished we will have a number of premises that will have been equipped with a number of technical skills that they can use for life.
He said they would continue to hire more people to carry out operations at the three border terminals, with 62 having already been hired to run the bus station.
In separate interviews, truckers said they have begun to observe changes in border turnaround times.
“Since the opening of the new cargo terminal dedicated to commercial cargo, we have seen an improvement,” said Mr. Luckson Chikoto.
“We no longer spend three or five days crossing the border. Provided you have all the documents and have completed pre-clearance, you will not spend more than three hours here. This means we can have more trips and more bonuses per month. »
Another driver, Mr Joseph Hlalo, said most of them are now doing more journeys and this is very critical given that some salaries are indexed to the loads they carry.
“We are satisfied with the development of the situation. Over the past few years, using the Beitbridge border post has been traumatic,” Mr Hlalo said.
He said they hoped things could improve once all the civil works were completed.
Beitbridge Business Expo Chair, Dr Anna Muleya, praised the government for transforming the country and SADC’s busiest inland port of entry and exit.
“I think it’s wonderful that the border has been so beautifully modernized with world-class facilities,” Dr Muleya said.
“It will make entering our city and the country in general something we will be proud of. Now I just hope that the beautiful buildings mean functioning systems and that the authorities can have more control over the border and reduce crime and rent-seeking activities.
Acting Head of Immigration Services at Beitbridge, Mr Trustworthy Manatsire, said recently that they had started to see the fruits of the scheme, in particular the separation of traffic.
He said traffic separation was a key objective given that the service will now be sector-based.
“You will notice that before, as the Department of Immigration, we used to clear everyone in one place, including commercial truckers, pedestrians, buses, light vehicles and traffic from transit.
But under this new set-up, border management and efficiency issues are improving as we seek to eliminate congestion altogether,” Manatsire said.
Prior to the ongoing modernization works, the lack of proper infrastructure and non-automation of the border post had, in previous years, created bottlenecks for the efficient movement of goods and people.
Service providers including the Zimbabwe National Roads Administration, Police and Agricultural Factory, Immigration, Environmental Management Authority, Port Health, Zimra and security agencies had to share limited space in one building.
It is understood that the human resources, commitment and efficiency-oriented mindset of all border-based staff will be very important in delivering a service that matches the world-class infrastructure.