THE number of travellers using the Beitbridge Border Post continues to surge as many Zimbabweans based in Eswatini, Lesotho and South Africa arrive in the country for the Christmas and New Year’s holidays.
Figures from the Department of Immigration show that an average of 20 000 travellers are being processed at the country and South Africa’s only land border daily.
This is an increase from the usual off peak of 9 000 people.
A total of 200 buses and 2 000 light vehicles are passing through the border compared to the usual 100 buses and 1100 cars daily.
The volume of commercial trucks remains unchanged at 900 daily.
By the end of the day yesterday, they were long but moving queues of both people and vehicles arriving in the country.
The acting head of immigration, Mr Trustworthy Manatsire said although they were clearing huge volumes of traffic, the pressure was minimal because of the new traffic flow system.
“Traffic is moving smoothly, you will note that every stakeholder is working as planned so that travellers may reach to their homes in time to enjoy the Christmas and New Year’s holidays,” he said.
“We have all deployed more manpower and opened up more services points so that the flow of traffic remains seamless. In the last one and half weeks we have been clearing at least 20 000 people daily, up from 9 000 during the off peak period and 75 percent of these are arrivals.”
So far, a total of 329 302 travellers passed through the border between 1 December and 21 December.
Among these were 191 910 arrivals and 137 392 departures.
During the same period, Mr Manatsire said they had arrested 3 876 people for violating various immigration laws including touting, vending, and the use of fake travel documents.
It is understood that the separation of traffic into commercial, buses and light vehicles and passengers’ terminals had made the clearance of seasonal traffic seamless.
In addition, most services have been automated to minimise human interface between travellers and border agencies.
“I am happy with the new border set up which has seen traffic being permanently separated into commercial, buses and private cars,” said one traveller, Mr Shelton Zviitwa.
“Things have improved for the better and I am looking forward to arriving in my village on time to celebrate the Christmas and New Year’s holidays.
“Today, we were cleared in less than an hour compared to previous years, where we would avoid using this border because of long delays of up to 24 hours.”
Another traveller identified only as Tinashe said he was looking forward to getting to Harare yesterday evening considering that services had improved at the border.
He said besides the border he was happy that the Beitbridge-Harare Road had also been upgraded.
Mr Mandla Nyoni from Bulawayo said he had decided to travel on Christmas Eve to avoid the usual traffic jam synonymous with the port of entry during peak periods.
“The general outlook of the border is impressive and also there is a new work ethic among border agencies.
“We hope this will continue beyond the festive season,” he said.
Previously human interface and limited infrastructure has been attributed as the main cause for long delays during peak periods at the port of entry and exit.
The Government and the Zimborders Consortium have completed transforming the border post at a cost of US$300 million under a Build Operate and Transfer 17 and half years’ partnership.
The project also has other major out of port components including the construction of 220 staff houses, 11,4 mega litres water reservoir, new sewer oxidation dam, an animal plant and quarantine centre among others.