A NEW era beckons for Beitbridge District in Matabeleland South as President Mnangagwa is expected to visit the border town today where he will officially commission some of the completed works under the ongoing US$300 million border modernisation and upgrade project.
The project whose ground-breaking ceremony was presided over by President Mnangagwa in July 2018, is one of the key economic and developmental initiatives being spearheaded by the Second Republic in Matabeleland region.
The project has transformed the face of the border town and created more than 2 000 jobs for locals in line with the National Development Strategy 1 (NDS1) and Vision 2030, which seeks to attain an upper middle-income economy.
The upgrading and modernisation of the Beitbridge Border Post will also speed up implementation of the One-Stop Border Post (OSBP) concept between Zimbabwe and South Africa.
Our news crew yesterday visited some of the projects set for commissioning and observed workers who were busy on site. Already the freight terminal is up and running while the bus terminal for public use is also operational.
The new terminals were built for each vehicle category including new parking areas and feeder roads. New cargo scanning equipment has been installed to allow for faster inspection of goods and detection of fraud, contraband and potential threats such as explosives and radioactive materials, among others.
Manual unloading and inspection has been reduced following the installation of a new ICT system, which allows an automated queuing and payment system for truckers.
Other facilities under the project include a fire station, 220 housing units for Government workers, a new Vehicle Inspectorate Depot (VID), an agriculture and animal quarantine, an 11,4 megalitres water reservoir and the dualisation of a carriageway from the border post to an intersection of the Beitbridge-Bulawayo Highway and civil works are being rolled out in three phases among them pre-commencement works (phase one), internal border infrastructure development (phase two) and outside border infrastructure development (phase three).
Construction of 220 houses for civil servants taking shape in Beitbridge.
The final phase of the Beitbridge Border Post modernisation and upgrade is expected to be completed next year in June.
The project is being implemented through a public-private partnership arrangement with ZimBorders Consortium and is the biggest investment for any city so far in the country.
Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Transport and Infrastructure Development, Engineer Theodius Chinyanga said President Mnangagwa will today commission the completed freight and bus terminals at Beitbridge Border Post.
“The border facilities, which His Excellency President Mnangagwa is going to commission are now 88 percent complete and they include the freight and bus terminal building,” he said.
“The border is now divided into three distinct routes and the first route is the freight terminal one, which will be used by truckers and we have the buses route and the commercial vehicle route.
“This was done in order to enhance efficiency because these three routes have distinct demands on the border agencies hence we have separated them. We separated the routes because we noted that some people in the buses will be carrying goods that need to be declared and scanned differently.”
Eng Chinyanga said new scanners have been installed on each route to ensure that border agencies are able to detect suspicious cargo.
“We also have a new weigh bridge installed for VID inspections. This project, which is the upgrading and modernisation of Beitbridge Border Post commenced in 2018 and is one of the biggest private-public partnership projects in the country,” he said.
“Government partnered Zimborders, a consortium of Zimbabwean and South African businesspeople and the funding is underwritten by South African banks, which shows a lot of confidence in the policies instituted by the Second Republic.”
Eng Chinyanga said the project has core and non-core activities. Core activities are those that are within the border and these are the new passenger building, freight terminal building, warehouses, a modern VID offices within the border, which are meant to facilitate efficiency.
“We have a new system that has integrated the entire border processes,” he said.
Eng Chinyanga said since the modernisation of the border post, there has been a rise in the number of users of the new facility as evidenced by the volume of traffic using the route.
“This is complemented by the upgrading of the Beitbridge-Harare-Chirundu Highway, which is the North South corridor. The non-core activities or projects within the Beitbridge upgrading and modernisation project are the 11,4 megalitres reservoir, accommodation village of 220 houses under construction,”he said.
Eng Chinyanga said the new fire station is one of the modern ones in the country.
He said a 5km stretch of road from the border post to the intersection of the Bulawayo and Harare roads has been dualised to address traffic congestion.
Eng Chinyanga said the roundabout on that section of the road is one of the landmark structures that have been created under the massive project.
Travellers who spoke to Chronicle said they were excited about the latest development, saying it has brought efficiency.
“This is a welcome development for us as travellers. We used to spend several hours in the queue but we are now spending less than 30 minutes to be cleared.
“The new-look border is quite refreshing and it reflects Government’s commitment to ease doing business,” said Mr George Moyo.
Mr Edmore Mpofu, a customs clearing agent said: “The automation of services and separation of traffic has created a conducive environment and reduced congestion, which was a major challenge in the past.
We are now spending less time at the border, which is a positive development.”
The modernisation of the border has also ignited excitement among residents. Beitbridge Residents Association spokesperson Mr Jabulani Makhado said: “With a facility of this magnitude we are seeing great improvement in terms of efficiency. There is a smooth movement of travellers since there is now a separation of traffic.”
Mr Makhado said the project has also changed the face of the border town. The border is being upgraded through a 17-year Build, Operate and Transfer (BOT) arrangement between the Government and ZimBorders Consortium.