Beitbridge border automation excites freight, customs agents Zimra Information Communication Technology (ICT) director, Mr Shami Moyo

Thupeyo Muleya, Beitbridge Bureau
CUSTOMS clearing and freight forwarding agents have hailed the Government for fully implementing the US$300 million Beitbridge Border Post transformation project that will among other things see services and operations being automated.

In separate interviews they said the new state of affairs will enhance efficiencies and improve the speedy flow of human traffic and cargo.

The Zimborders Consortium

Delays in the movement of goods have been a perennial headache at the country’s busiest inland port of entry until the New Dispensation, in partnership with the Zimborders Consortium, moved in in 2018.

Chairperson of the border project subcommittee on ICT, Mr Shami Moyo, said the automation of the modernised border post will involve the use of cameras and more paperless transactions.

He said the travellers and transporters will use a single-window payment system to cut time spent at the border.

“The idea is to go hi-tech and use more of the prepayments and pre-clearance systems. People must spend as little time as possible to go through this port of entry,” said Mr Moyo.

Liquid Telecoms

He added that in terms of connectivity, they were running with two service providers — Liquid Telecoms and TelOne — to make sure there is continuous service.

Mr Itayi Misihayirambwi of Cutting Lyne Investments said the automation of operations at the border post will bring fluidity to the clearance process and enhance the swift movement of cargo without delay.

He said the turnaround time of moving cargo both northbound and southbound will be improved.

“Where the clearance of cargo used to take days, we are now seeing the same process being done within a few hours due to changes at the border,” said Mr Misihayirambwi.

“We also expect to save stationery considering that in some instances we used to print a lot of hard copies and we now rely on scanned documents which will also reduce our operational costs.”

Another freight forwarder, Mr Martin Dube said the border automation has led to efficiency, and that the flow of trucks north and south-bound is now clear and more defined.

He said a number of loopholes and bottlenecks affecting revenue collection had been addressed under the new systems.

“As we work towards a paperless environment, the need for runners is slowly being done away with.

You will also note that the introduction of electronic cargo manifests, online CD3s and online payment systems such as Icecah and Korridor will eventually lead to a reduction in labour costs.

Most things can now be done on the computer,” said Mr Dube.

Chairperson of the Beitbridge Business Expo, Dr Anna Muleya, said the transformation of the border was a critical move to address barriers to trade within the Sadc region.

She said in the last few years some transporters were opting to use other border posts to avoid delays at the Beitbridge Border Post.

“This is a great move and we applaud it because those inefficiencies in the border are choking our businesses, especially the Customs Clearing Industry which is the main commercial activity in the town,” she said.

Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (Zimra)

The development comes a few months after the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (Zimra) introduced Documented Processing Centres (DPCs) and introduced the pre-clearance systems to speed up the flow of cargo at the ports of entry.

Under the current set-up all commercial Bills of Entries are being processed electronically and these are processed at Harare, Masvingo and Bulawayo DPCs.

When these Bills of Entry are processed the trucks are then given the greenlight to the port of entry or exit where authorities there only check for conformity. — @tupeyo

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