Thupeyo Muleya Beitbridge Bureau
Zimbabwean and South African immigration authorities yesterday worked round the clock to clear the final batch of travellers entering the country through Beitbridge Border Post.
Human traffic has been increasing on the Zimbabwean side of the border during the past three days, as people rushed to beat the deadline for the closure of the border.
According to a border official, a total of 1 522 Zimbabweans entered the country between 6am and 2pm yesterday, mostly travelling in buses which had arrived late on the South African border on Thursday.
Additionally, less than 40 haulage trucks drivers crossed into the neighbouring country.
Only Zimbabweans and foreigners who are resident in the country were allowed on the northbound traffic and only South Africans and those who are legal residents in that country are leaving on the south-bound traffic.
The movement of cargo has not been compromised, with those legally employed in the freight movers allowed passage into either country.
Under normal circumstances, a total of 14 000 people, 3 000 light vehicles, 120 buses and 500 trucks use Beitbridge Border Post daily.
The figures normally increases threefold during major holidays and peak periods.
South Africa’s Home Affairs Minister Dr Aaron Motsoaledi also visited the border yesterday to assess the compliance levels pending further recommendations.
The assistant regional immigration officer-in-charge of Beitbridge (Zimbabwe) Mr Nqobile Ncube said: “We are dealing with the last-minute arrivals and we want to clear at least 1 000 people who are on the South African side of the border.
“By the end of the day we would have cleared them. The situation is under control, there is a high level of compliance with the new measures on part of the travellers.”
Mr Ncube said they were not anticipating any further traffic increase since the full lockdown, which also covered major highways was now in effect.
The Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (Zimra) has since announced streamlined processes at Beitbridge for clearing cargo shipments that rely on high-level compliance and minimum human contact.
The Zimbabwean travel ban was announced by President Mnangagwa on Monday as part of a cocktail of measures to manage and contain Covid-19, while South Africa started a 21-day lockdown on Thursday midnight, which includes travel restrictions.
To avoid confusion, the two countries have agreed to coordinate immigration policies on each side of the border.
Meanwhile, the Zimbabwe Republic Police has strategically deployed its members to minimise cases of border jumping along the country’s boundary with South Africa.
National police spokesman Assistant Commissioner Paul Nyathi said the police will not take lightly anyone trying to compromise the safety of Zimbabweans.
The Herald is reliably informed that some immigrants are using over 200 illegal crossing points along the Limpopo River to enter the country.
The most common crossing points are Mai Maria, Dite, Panda Mine, River Ranch and Tshivhara.