Travelers are spending up to two days waiting for clearance at the Beitbridge border post, with congestion and delays being worsened by the Covid-19 lockdown measures.
iHarare established from The Chronicle that covid-19 health protocols have led to the long winding queues from both sides of the border.
Officials from the South African side of the border have since stopped clearing small vehicles, buses, and pedestrians after 10 PM when the covid-19 curfew commences and resume after 4 AM.
A border official said the governments of South Africa and Zimbabwe need to re-look at the curfew hours as they are causing congestion.
“There is a need for Zimbabwe and South Africa to seriously consider the issue of curfews.
“As it stands, the South Africans are not clearing any traffic besides commercial cargo after 10 pm. This has created problems for border officials considering that they are overwhelmed by traffic during this period even when operating 24 hours,” the official said.
The official added that after 10 PM, SA officials only clear commercial vehicles.
“The SA officials start limiting the numbers of vehicles to be cleared as from 8 pm and stop clearing the vehicles and people at 10 pm except for commercial vehicles,” said the official.
Ms. Alice Magwinye who was traveling to Masvingo from Johannesburg said that she has been stuck at the border for over 24 hours.
“This is my second day at the border, I arrived at the South African border on Saturday morning but failed to cross because they wanted me to redo Covid-19 tests.
“I did that in the morning and when I went back to the border, the officials told me they were not handling travellers after 10 PM in line with the curfew requirements. We then slept at the taxi rank on the border with others who encountered the same predicament and only crossed into Zimbabwe around 10 AM,” she said.
The Chronicle has it on good ground that officials from both sides of the border are clearing a combined total of 2 500 vehicles per day, these includes:
- 1 000 commercial trucks.
- 100 buses.
- 1 400 light motor vehicles.
The Department of Immigration’s spokesperson, Mrs. Memory Mugwagwa said they had beefed up staff at the country’s busiest port of entry.
She added that all leave and off days for all staff had been suspended indefinitely so as to boost manpower productivity.
“We are processing between 4 000 and 5 000 travellers at Beitbridge and Plumtree and we have been polishing up our operations so that we will be able to clear more traffic through the festive season,” she said.