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Commercial cargo piling up at border

by Staff reporter
14 Oct 2021 at 06:20hrs | Views
Commercial cargo continues to pile up on both sides of the Beitbridge border post where truck drivers are passively protesting over the poor service delivery at the border and the introduction of relatively high border access fees at the new freight terminal.

Zimborders and the Government are implementing a 17 and half years Build Operate and Transfer (BOT) US$300 million Beitbridge modernisation project. The project is being rolled out in three phases, and the first phase is the construction of the new freight terminal that opened to commercial traffic a fortnight ago with tolling starting on Monday.

To recoup part of the costs used on the project, the Zimborders Consortium, is charging US$115 for heavy vehicles (rigid trucks), US$200 for commercial trucks, and US$344 for abnormal load vehicles.

In addition, the trucks are expected to pay US$23 to the Zimbabwe National Road Administration ZINARA) for using the New Limpopo Bridge.

Previously, all vehicles were paying only bridge toll fees from US$9 to US$100 at Zinara.

The latest move saw truckers blocking the New Limpopo Bridge on Monday afternoon complaining that despite paying more access fees they were also spending longer than necessary to be cleared.

 Some said they are spending between four and seven days to access both sides of the border and that the more time they spend in queues the more money they spend on daily upkeep expenses.

"We are frustrated by the poor level of service delivery, the many checkpoints, and the more money we are meant to pay to access the border.

The situation could be better if the traffic flow situation had improved. So most drivers are not willing to get to the border that's why you see the queues are getting longer here," said a driver who preferred anonymity.

By the end of the day, the double queues on Zimbabwe were stretching for almost 3km along the Beitbridge Bulawayo road.

The chairperson of the Transport Operators Association of Zimbabwe (TOAZ), Mr Albert Bere said he was yet to get full details on the situation at Beitbridge.

Zimborders consortium chief executive officer, Mr Fran├žois Diedrechsen said they were on the ground with other border stakeholders addressing all the teething challenges to the new system.

"Currently, I am on site dealing with some of the issues, there were some issues on Monday," he said.

"I can confirm that Zimra and Zimborders are dealing with these issues nonstop and the flow of traffic is improving, although not perfect yet, but improving by the hour.

The sticking problems were from a few different sources, some valid and some not, but the view we have collectively taken is that whilst change can be challenging and a process, working together these changes will yield the required results for all stakeholders shortly"

He said some of the delays at the border were linked to the Covid19 restrictions which made it impossible for freight forwarders to operate round the clock.

The official said such a setup had created a backlog in terms of customs clearance.

"We are now working tirelessly to address issues in that area. We are hopeful the flow will improve as soon as possible," said Mr Diedrechsen.

Source - The Herald
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