Thupeyo Muleya, Beitbridge Bureau
BORDER authorities from Zimbabwe and South Africa have said they are geared up for the expected increase in vehicular and human traffic during the festive season.
The number of travellers accessing either Zimbabwe or South Africa through Beitbridge Border Post is expected to shoot up from 13 000 to 30 000 daily.
The Assistant Regional Immigration Officer (ARIO) in charge of Beitbridge (Zimbabwe) Mr Nqobile Ncube said yesterday that they had harmonised a border efficiency management plan with their South African counterparts that will be implemented from December 4 to 13 January.
He said the volume of incoming traffic was gradually increasing and the trend is expected to continue until Christmas Eve.
“The joint stakeholder’s forum at Beitbridge Border Post consisting of Zimbabwe and South African agencies agreed that the festive season operational period is between 4 December and 13 January,” said Mr Ncube.
“We are building from the successes of last festive season and this time we will implement the following measures: cancel all off and leave for border workers, collapse four shifts into three to enhance manpower and also utilise outside clearing points in conjunction with separating traffic into buses, light, heavy and pedestrians.
“In terms of human traffic, we have been clearing an average of 16 000 in the off-peak period and now we are handling close to 21 000 daily.”
Mr Ncube said they were rolling out a number of compliance measures to curb movement by undocumented persons across borders and the smuggling of minors.
He said parents should avoid contracting child smugglers to illegally transport their children across borders as the practice exposed children to criminal activities including human trafficking and sexual abuse.
Mr Ncube said their compliance focus will be on transporters and will be pushing for deterrent measures in terms of arrests and convictions.
He encouraged the elderly, expecting mothers and those travelling with minors where possible to travel earlier to avoid congestion at ports of entry.
Mr Ncube said parents should take advantage of the recent relaxation of external birth registration fees and the decentralisation of the process to ensure that during the festive season they procure relevant documentation for their children.
The Chronicle has learnt that the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority has deployed 80 relief officers from less busy stations to Beitbridge.
Beitbridge is the only border with South Africa for road users and also an access port for countries north of the Zambezi River.