5 January 2013

Zimbabwe: Congestion Back at Beitbridge Border Post

Photo: Dylan Thomas / UKaid / Department for International Development
Barbed fencing lines the South Africa - Zimbabwe border.

THERE was pandemonium in Beitbridge Border Post yesterday following an increase in the volume of both human and vehicular traffic passing through the border post into South Africa.

The Herald observed winding queues of heavy and light vehicles, mostly South African registered cars and buses lining the road leading to the border. The queue stretched for about 5km.

Police, immigration officers and New Limpopo Bridge Company employees had a torrid time controlling the queues as they tried to reduce congestion at the country's busiest inland port of entry.

Assistant regional immigration manager-in-charge of the border Mr Charles Gwede attributed the sudden increase in the volume of traffic to failure by their South African counterparts to absorb pressure on their side.

"We were forced to hold the cars up for several hours largely because our South African counterparts are failing to absorb pressure on their side, resulting in the formation of long winding queues on our side," he said.

He said most of the people started travelling on Wednesday, a majority of whom were returning Zimbabweans working in South Africa.

Mr Gwede said they anticipated the volume of both human and vehicular traffic to increase on the exit side at the weekend.

"We are handling an increase in the volume of traffic as the number of people; mostly Zimbabweans working in South Africa have started going back following the end of the festive season.

"In fact, the numbers started increasing on Thursday and we anticipated a further increase as more people are likely to travel at the weekend," he said.

Mr Gwede, however, said so far the situation was under control.

He said they had created separate immigration counters for buses as a way of easing congestion.

He said they were only allowing traffic to enter into the border in small batches as a way of reducing congestion.

On average the border handles about 8 000 travellers daily with the figures increasing to 20 000 during the peak period such as the festive season.

South Africa's Border Control Operation Coordinating Committee (BCOCC) spokesperson Mr Patrick Moengs said that they were reviewing plans to address congestion at their side of the border.

"We are reviewing plans to see how best we can improve our roads as more people from neighbouring countries would be entering the country through Beitbridge border post following the end of the festive period."

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