BY REX MPHISA
ZIMBORDERS authorities yesterday said the traffic backlog at Beitbridge Border Post had “tremendously” improved, with vehicle clearance now taking less than 12 hours, compared to five or more days in the past.
The improved traffic clearance has been attributed to pre-clearance compliance by importers, and the fines that were introduced on transporters that were deliberately causing delays.
Zimborders official François Diedrechsen told NewsDay that the modern electronic systems that were introduced at the border post improved traffic clearance.
“For instance, if a company has trucks that pass more than five times without any issues, that company should be exempted from physical examinations on the next trip. The technology in the new terminal is able to read that,” Diedrechsen said.
“That is the international trend in developed countries and Zimbabwe should embrace this to speed up movement of goods through Beitbridge border.”
Officials at the border post have been insisting on 100% checks at every point, which resulted in traffic jams.
Soon after the introduction of US$200 fees for trucks to pass through by Zimborders, truckers abandoned the Beitbridge route, opting to go through Kazungula Border Post.
The road freight association in South Africa this week said pre-clearance systems at Beitbridge had improved compared to Kazungula Border Post.
Latest data shows that it is taking less than 12 hours for a truck to be cleared to pass through the Beitbridge border.
Federation of East and Southern African Road Transport Associations chief director Mike Fitzmaurice, was recently quoted in a freight magazine saying the latest on-average processing time is four hours from Zimbabwe into South Africa.
“To put it into perspective, at the Kazungula Bridge across the Zambezi between Botswana and Zambia, processing still takes longer than 24 hours on average,” Fitzmaurice told Border Beat, a road and rail freighters newsletter.
He said while Kazungula was a single window one-stop border post compared to Beitbridge, it took up to 25 hours for a truck to be cleared to enter Zambia.
In October, long-winding queues of trucks waiting to be cleared were the order of the day at Beitbridge.
On the South African side, trucks arriving were kept in truck yards if requisite border transit documentation was inadequate.
South Africa introduced R20 000 fine for non-compliance with pre-clearing procedures.
On the Zimbabwean side, shipping agents at Beitbridge risked suspension of their licences or paying fines if trucks failed to move out of the Zimborders control zone within three hours.
Zimbabwe, which is a transit hub in the region, earns substantial amounts of money in transit and toll fees from vehicles. It lost considerable revenue when transporters opted for the Kazungula route.