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Concern over lengthy Beitbridge border queues

Beitbridge port of entry at a glance. File picture: Timothy Bernard/African News Agency(ANA).

Beitbridge port of entry at a glance. File picture: Timothy Bernard/African News Agency(ANA).

Published Oct 19, 2021

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DURBAN - THERE is growing concern about the situation at the Beitbridge border post as truck drivers have been stuck for up to five days before being processed to enter South Africa and Zimbabwe.

Videos shared on social media show queues that stretch for long distances at the border post. Drivers, who spoke to eNCA, said the delays were due to a new commercial terminal, access fees, and a slow electronic system.

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Mmenyane Seoposengwe, senior manager; strategic communications for the Cross Border Road Transport Agency (C-BRTA) said that construction on the Zimbabwe side of the border along with new crossing tariffs introduced by Zimbabwe were contributing to the delays at Beitbridge.

The interstate operations agency, which aims to reduce mobility constraints for road transport operators, said it was concerned about the delays at the border.

“The current construction taking place on the Zimbabwe side of the border also impacts on the current delays.

Furthermore, Zimbabwe recently introduced new crossing tariffs applicable to passenger, freight and private vehicles.

“The C-BRTA’s role at the border is to ensure compliance on cross-border transport operations and the validity of permits. This task would in no way cause delays; we are, however, diligently working with our Zimbabwe counterparts to address this issue.”

Angel Khanyile, DA spokesperson on Home Affairs, said that the situation needed urgent intervention.

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“The DA calls on the Minister of Home Affairs, Dr Aaron Motsoaledi, to engage with his Zimbabwean counterpart as a matter of urgency following reports that growing numbers of trucks have been stuck at the Beitbridge border post for more than five days before being processed into both countries.”

Khanyile added that stranded truck drivers were being denied basic human rights and the situation they were in posed a health risk.

“The renovations at South Africa’s border with Zimbabwe have caused queues of more than 50km and truck drivers are stranded without access to water or ablution and sanitation facilities. This poses a risk to their health with both countries still in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic.”

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Francois Diedrechsen, the chief executive of Zimborders Consortium, which secured the contract for the upgrade and modernisation of Beitbridge border post, said yesterday that the situation was improving gradually.

“The present situation at the border is improving daily after incorporating improved new processes and systems; south-bound traffic queues have been reduced from over 4km a week ago to under 500m; northbound queues remain a challenge as this backlog (extended for) 10km and was three lanes wide at the peak (currently 8km and mostly a single lane) and is being reduced gradually daily with the increased throughput currently being achieved.

“All teams from both government and Zimborders are working around the clock to improve the situation.”

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Gavin Kelly, chief executive of the Road Freight Association, said that he was waiting for an update on the situation. “Earlier today (yesterday), the situation was unchanged. According to the officials on the ground, there is a surge in traffic on Tuesdays and Wednesdays and the border really struggles; that will start from tomorrow (today).”

THE MERCURY

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