Thupeyo Muleya, Beitbridge Bureau
Zimbabwe and South Africa re-opened the Beitbridge Border Post yesterday, with clearance of essential cargo, especially perishable food items, medicines and explosives being prioritised.
South Africa temporarily closed its side of the border on Wednesday afternoon after one of its customs officers tested positive for Covid-19. The border closure was meant to give health officials in the neighbouring country time to fumigate its customs yard and the exercise was completed on Thursday.
A total of 350 commercial trucks which had been parked at various customs yards on both sides of the border were cleared between 6AM and 4PM yesterday.
The border however, remains open only to commercial cargo and repatriation of South African and Zimbabwean citizens including remains of those who die in either country.
According to border authorities, normal business resumed at 6AM after the South Africans fully complied with the Covid-19 regulations set by their government. “We processed around 200 south bound trucks and another 150 north bound between 6AM and 4PM.
“Things are gradually getting back to normalcy,” said the official.
South Africa Revenue Services spokesperson, Siphithi Sibeko said on Wednesday that they had closed the border to carry out necessary precautionary measures to minimise new infections.
“At the same time we are mindful of the delays that come with this process and hence we are going to give priority to the clearance of essential cargo when we re-open,” he said.
Zimra’s Head of communications, Mr Francis Chimanda said they were implementing the pre-clearance system to minimise delays in movement of cargo.
Under the pre-clearance facility, declarations and import duty payments are made for consignments before they arrive at the port of entry.
When the goods finally arrive at the border, customs officials only check for compliance and conformity.
This is opposed to starting the whole clearance processes which takes anything from three to 24 hours depending on the availability of the necessary documents.
Prior to the latest development, an average of 1 000 commercial trucks were being cleared at the country’s busiest border.
An estimated 100 bodies of Zimbabweans are being repatriated from South Africa weekly.
Meanwhile, the South African Police closed four police stations for fumigation in Limpopo province this week after some officers tested positive for Covid-19. — @tupeyo