The Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (ZIMRA) has come up with a raft of measures including creating express lanes for critical consumables and transit cargo to ease congestions that has been reigning supreme at Chirundu and Beitbridge Border Post since last week.
According to Zimra the traffic situation at the borders have been heightened by the increase of transit cargo now passing through Zimbabwe.
This follows the closure of transit routes by other regional countries to combat the spread of coronavirus pandemic.
The situation had also been worsened by delays at the Revenue Authority’s Document Processing Centres (DPC) in Bulawayo and Harare where documents are processed electronically for all imports and export leaving the country.
The Bulawayo office has a backlog after it was recently closed when a customs officer tested positive for Covid-19, while the Harare office was closed for 14 hours for fumigation at the weekend.
This then left the Masvingo DPC office overwhelmed with all commercial cargo bills of entries processing.
In a statement, on Wednesday evening, Zimra’s head of communications, Francis Chimanda, said they had engaged a number of players to cope with increased Covid-19 related traffic situations at the country’s borders.
“The current traffic situation at Beitbridge Border post has seen an unprecedented increase of approximately over 100 percent in both import and export movement in the last few days,” he said.
“We are taking steps, in partnership with various stakeholders, to improve the turnaround time.
“The increase has been largely attributed to the different Covid-19 testing protocols implemented by different countries in the region, which have seen transporters diverting their trucks from some routes to and from South Africa and transiting through Zimbabwe, resulting in the increase in the flow of traffic through Beitbridge.
“This has imposed unanticipated strain on both border infrastructure and human resources for Zimbabwe and neighbouring country border stakeholders”.
Mr Chimanda said some of the measures the organisation was implementing to relieve the congestion and ensure easier movement, include the introduction of more queues, fast tracking of maize and other urgent food imports, fuel, explosive materials and empty trucks.
He said they were also engaging with its various stakeholders in order to find ways of addressing the challenges through collaboration and teamwork.
The official added that at the same time, they were maintaining a balance between facilitation, revenue collection, enforcing controls and being mindful of the Covid-19 virus.
“We also need to observe protocols that need to be implemented to reduce exposure for clients, employees and our other stakeholders.
“Zimra continues to engage with other stakeholders to ensure that our clearance processes and systems are as fluid as possible under the circumstances and the truck flow remains steady and consistently under control,” said Mr Chimanda.
He also added that they were now clearing an average of 900 trucks at Beitbridge Border Post daily in comparison to the usual 400 prior to the eruption of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The official added that according to the Beitbridge Annual Report for 2019, an average of 345 trucks were being cleared per day for the period May 26 to June 1.
“The statistics show that an average of 890 trucks were cleared at Beitbridge per day in the last seven days,” said Mr Chimanda.
Most countries using Zimbabwe as a transit trade route include; Malawi, Tanzania, Angola, Mozambique and Democratic People’s Republic of Congo.