Thupeyo Muleya, Beitbridge Bureau
ZIMBABWEANS have applauded the Government for initiating the $241 million infrastructure and border post upgrading project at Beitbridge, the country’s and Sadc’s busiest inland port.
President Mnangagwa last week officiated at a groundbreaking ceremony at the port of entry to lay the foundation into its modernisation into a world class commercial hub.
Some of the works under the modernisation programme include the construction of more commercial customs offices, paving, and expansion of sewer and water reticulation facilities, separation of traffic into buses, light vehicles, tourists, commercial vehicles, and construction of a commercial bridge to link with South Africa and the upgrading of Beitbridge Municipality’s key infrastructure.
Speaking during the ground breaking ceremony last Wednesday, President Mnangagwa said upon completion the new look Beitbridge border post will enhance the ease of doing business, boost revenue collection and stimulate international trade.
In separate interviews travellers, businesspeople and other stakeholders said the border transformation was long overdue.
Beitbridge Municipality’s Acting Town Clerk Mr Loud Ramakgapola said; “Beitbridge border is the gateway to the Indian Ocean and to Africa. It is the face of Zimbabwe.
“We are happy that Government at the level of the President has taken keen interest in the town and from the tone of the Government we are going to shine as a municipality.
“We welcome the modernisation of the border post and support to the municipality of Beitbridge’s infrastructure.”
Mr Ramakgapola said roads, sewer and water reticulation facilities were some of the local authority’s top priority programmes, though resource constraints were stumbling blocks.
He said the town was growing and hence they need to expand and modernise road network and upgrade the sewer and water infrastructure.
“Government support in infrastructure development is a welcome relief. The modernisation will thus help improve our infrastructure and bring development to the town,” said Mr Ramakgapola.
The chairman of the local transporters’ Beitbridge chapter, Mr Osbert Shumba said the new order will help decongest the border and enhance a smooth flow of human and cargo within the port of entry.
“This would decongest the border and allow smooth flow of vehicles without mixing commercial truck drivers with the rest of travellers.
“In addition, we look forward to the separation and categorising of cargo, especially where dangerous and hazardous, transit and local trucks are concerned. You will also note that the modernisation will restore confidence in most transporters who were now avoiding Zimbabwe as a transit country due to delays at the border and this had vehemently affected us because people lost their jobs and clearing agents their workload has reduced,” said Mr Shumba.
He urged the Government to also look into staff deployments at the border post to ensure all line stakeholders operated at full capacity.
Beitbridge Business Association (BBA) chairman Mr Nkululeko Milidi said they were looking into opportunities arising from the massive civil works project.
The town’s mayor Councillor Showa Moyo said:
“This initiative will create more jobs for our residents who will be engaged for different activities under the modernisation programme”.
A local businessman, Mr Benjamin Muleya said employment of local residents should be prioritised under the border expansion initiative and that local businesses should be considered for other ancillary services.