Beitbridge Bureau — Police in Beitbridge have arrested 93 people in the border town for various offences since Sunday, as they implement mechanisms to deal with crime during the festive season. Those arrested included 18 touts, 19 pirate taxi operators, 10 gamblers, 26 drivers carrying unsecured loads and 20 bus drivers.
Police officer commanding Beitbridge Chief Superintendent Lawrence Chinhengo said they had deployed more officers to the border post, around the town and major roads leading to Harare and Bulawayo.
He said more people had started frequenting the town ahead of the festive season and criminals were taking advantage to commit crime.
Chief Supt Chinhengo said they were working with other stakeholders to deal with criminals in the district.
"Experience has shown that during the festive season, some criminals such as touts, wheeler dealers and conmen would want to take advantage of this period to commit crimes, mainly targeting unsuspecting travellers," he said.
"As police we have noted with concern the rate at which most travellers' safety is being compromised at our border post by these people and hence the need to intervene."
Meanwhile, the Department of Immigration and the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority have stepped up preparations for the festive season as the volume of both human and vehicular traffic has started increasing at Beitbridge border post.
By yesterday afternoon, the flow of traffic was smooth and marked an improvement from the previous years where the border would have turned chaotic by this time.
About 9 000 people pass through Beitbridge everyday during off peak periods and increase to 25 000 a day during public holidays.
Assistant Regional Immigration Officer in charge of Southern region (Beitbridge) Mr Charles Gwede said they had done everything necessary to make this year's festive season memorable.
He said they were anticipating 20 more relief staff from less busy stations to assist with the clearance of traffic at the border post.
"We have been consulting with other inter-border stakeholders on their expectations and plans and agreed to make this year a different experience for travellers," said Mr Gwede.
"We are building the strengths and weaknesses from past experience and are going to address most of the challenges that have been hindering the smooth movement of traffic.
"Traffic will be separated into pedestrians, visitors, private motorists, buses and commercial. More clearance counters will be opened outside the immigration hall. Furthermore, buses will be cleared through the tagging system on first come first serve basis."
Mr Gwede said they had stopped staff from going on leave.
Zimra's director of corporate and legal affairs Ms Florence Jambwa said they had increased staff complement not only at Manica Transit Shed, but at the border to facilitate speedy passage of travellers and goods.