As legislators call for modern technology, including drones, at border posts to help immigration officers identify wanted criminals and prohibited immigrants trying to enter Zimbabwe, police are stepping up their anti-smuggling patrols.
In a statement, police warned “members of the public against smuggling and using unauthorised ports of entry and exit”.
Police in Kanyemba recently arrested five suspects for smuggling bales of clothes from Mozambique.
In a report on the state of service delivery at ports of entry presented in the National Assembly last week, legislators wanted the Government to prioritise and ensure urgent installation of modern state of the art ICT facilities at ports of entry to enable effective border patrols and surveillance.
The legislators said given the high volumes of movement at the ports, officials were not able to collectively identify criminals and prohibited immigrants without proper modern day technology leading to porosity and criminals functioning.
The lawmakers noted that porous borders and smuggling were bleeding the country millions of dollars in revenue as well posing a national security threat due to illegal and unchecked movements along border lines.
“Our security remains bleak,” reads the report. “Some of our borders have no physical barrier and are highly porous with a number of illegal crossing points along the border line, thus creating operational challenges.
“No wonder why at one time we had people from Ethiopia caught in Gwanda on foot because of the porousness of the border line.
“Government should prioritise and ensure installation of modern and state of the art ICT facilities before year end in order to enable effective border patrols and surveillance using drones to gather, on real-time basis, accurate data and intelligence about illicit activities occurring across border lines.
“This should also include availing resources for integrated capacitation programmes for immigrations, customs and security agents at border posts in the use of modern ICT and drones.”
More so, they established that the border porosity gave way to illegal crossings of people whose Covid-19 status are unknown and is increasing the risk of further spreading of the virus in the country.
The legislators further noted that the country’s borders were very porous as evidenced by the proliferation of illegal exit and entry points saying the rise in illegal border crossing cases impacted negatively on the reputation of the Immigration Department in as much as it affected the entire nation in terms of security and loss of revenue.
They said that securing the country’s borders was critical and there was urgent need to adequately and properly equip border security personnel for effective operation and patrol along the border lines.
“The departments are lagging in using modern technology such as drones, surveillance cameras, biometric cameras at clearance points, helicopters for effective operations, patrols and security surveillance at border posts,” reads the report.