Thupeyo Muleya–Beitbridge Bureau
THE newly-upgraded commercial terminal, built under the US$300 million Beitbridge Border Post modernisation project is set to open to commercial traffic on October 6.
SADC’s busiest inland port of entry is being upgraded through a 17-year Built Operate and Transfer (BOT) arrangement between the Government and Zimborders Consortium.
Under the initiative, the Government is providing technical support while Zimborders, through various financial institutions, is funding civil works.
The current border which handles at least 1 200 commercial heavy trucks, 3 500 light motor vehicles, 120 buses and 15 000 travellers daily is expected to carry five-fold its capacity upon full completion next year.
Zimborders chief executive, Mr Francois Diedrechsen yesterday said the port of entry was being transformed in three phases.
“Phase 1 will be completed in its entirety for the go-live date of October 6 this year and this involves all buildings, warehouses, roads, new weigh-bridges and new main freight terminal building among others,” he said.
Mr Diedrechsen said under the new set-up, Zimborders in partnership with the Government, would collect nominal access fees on commercial freight transport.
This, he said, would be done for them to be able to maintain the border infrastructure and service loans from the financial institutions.
“With respect to Phases 2 and 3, these will include the construction of the new terminals for buses, light vehicles and pedestrians.
“Their opening will be done at different times upon completion in the next year. Thus, the border toll access fee will only be payable by the freight vehicles at this stage,” said Mr Diedrechsen.
At the moment, the Zimbabwe National Road Administration (ZINARA) is collecting only the New Limpopo Bridge (NLB) toll fees from vehicle traffic with adjustments expected to be made soon.
It is envisaged that under the new Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs), Zimborders will operate the new traffic flow systems and maintain infrastructure at the border.
Mr Diedrechsen said they would hire a total of 111 people for fees collection and had already started the process. This is in addition to the 485 being hired for civil works during the course of the three-year project.
“We have already recruited 40 people for this function and this excludes the construction, maintenance, and ICT flow systems staff. The other 71 will be hired in the next two phases.
“The money will be collected at the entry gatehouses to the new terminal and also at a kiosk in the terminal building. We will embrace the prepayments and credit card facilities to ensure there is a smooth flow of traffic,” he said.
Mr Diedrechsen said the additional border access fees would be substantially offset by the reduction in time the truckers pass through the border.
“This will create a substantial saving for the truckers and thus making the route cheaper as well as more convenient as a result of the time saved to pass through the border,” added Mr Diedrechsen.
Under the same project, Zimborders is constructing 264 houses for border workers, a fire station, upgrading roads, water and sewer reticulation infrastructure for Beitbridge town.
These are at various stages of construction.