A total of 708 179 people passed through Beitbridge Border Post during the just ended festive season, after authorities put in place border efficiency and management systems that facilitated ease of movement.
Official figures from the Department of Immigration show that a total of 375 956 travellers inclusive of returning residents and tourists entered the country from South Africa between in December 5 last year and last Sunday.
During the same period 332 223 people travelled to South Africa via the border post, which is the country’s and SADC’s busiest inland port of entry.
The assistant regional immigration officer in charge of Beitbridge, Mr Nqobile Ncube said they cleared 24 000 people during peak periods and 14 000 off peak daily.
These, he said was inclusive of both entries and departures. The Herald understands that the surge in entries through Beitbridge in the last three years is a result of the confidence travellers have in the level of efficiency and organisation amongst border authorities.
“Though the movement of travellers increased on the arrivals side, we had the situation under control. We employed the border efficiency management system were harmonised operation with local and South Africans to ensure that travellers spent the shortest possible time at the border.
“A turnaround plan has been successfully implemented and it brought on board all stakeholders including Traffic sections from ZRP and Beitbridge Municipality to avoid the problem of traffic jams in Beitbridge town,” said Mr Ncube.
He said some of the measures employed to ease the flow of traffic include the re-organisation of the border, where traffic is separated into pedestrians, motorists, buses, commercial and visitors. He said they had deployed adequate staff to deal with the increase in human and vehicular traffic during the festive season. The official said though they had witnessed an upsurge in South Africa bound traffic between January 4 and 6 the situation was returning to normalcy.
“Manpower deployments remains the same as in Pre-Christmas period with all officers on hand and all forms of off and leave days cancelled,” said Mr Ncube. “You will also note that, Beitbridge is adequately staffed as per the Departmental Detailed Establishment Table.
“However, the major challenge was people leaving en-mass at the same time between January 4 and 6 but we managed to handle increased levels working in conjunction with our South African counterparts.
“Major movement is over and traffic flows are almost back to normal but we are gearing up for the back to school traffic as both countries’ schools seem to be opening same week”.
He urged people to travel well ahead of the school’s opening to prevent delays and to ensure they have correct documentation. He said they had also deployed a Regional Compliance and Enforcement unit on the ground to curb issues of rent-seeking, child smuggling and border jumping.