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Forbes Border Post starts 24-hour service

by Staff reporter
13 Jan 2024 at 01:47hrs | Views
FORBES Border Post just outside Mutare will be running 24 hours from Monday to cope with the growth in haulage truck traffic and use of Beira port, Zimbabwe's closest access to the sea.

Forbes Border Post is one of the oldest border posts, dating from the 1890s when the route to then small landing point on the Pungwe estuary at "Fort Beira" was opened, and traffic has built up over more than a century to make Forbes one of the busiest ports of entry into the country.

The border post serves almost half of the SADC region, and is clearing about 550 haulage trucks every day.

Both Zimbabwe and Mozambique are ready to open the matching pair of Forbes and Machipanda border posts for 24 hours.

A Mozambican transport ministry delegation is expected next week to fine tune all modalities to have the two borders running 24 hours without any glitches.

Currently, both border posts close at 10pm, forcing truckers to spend more time in the queues awaiting clearance.

In November last year, President Mnangagwa joined his Mozambique President Filipe Nyusi in witnessing the commissioning of the rehabilitated US$200 million Beira-Machipanda railway line.

Speaking at the commissioning of the railway line in Manica, Mozambique, President Mnangagwa said, not only will the rehabilitated 318-kilometre railway line reduce transport costs, but will also ease congestion at Forbes Border Post in Mutare.

Yesterday, various Government agencies involved in the clearance of goods at port entries toured Forbes Border Post to have an appreciation of operations at the busy border.

Chairperson of the Forbes Committee on 24-hours Operation as well as Transport and Infrastructural Development Permanent Secretary, Engineer Joy Makumbe, announced that Forbes Border Post will be running 24 hours, starting on Monday.

"Come Monday, we will be opening 24 hours so that we can reduce the backlog in terms of clearance of cargo. All stakeholders in the movement of good in and out of the country are here and we have agreed that starting on Monday, Forbes Border Post will be opening 24 hours so that we can address all the challenges affecting the smooth flow of traffic at the border.

"The Mozambican Transport Minister recently had a conversation with our own minister, and they said they are ready as well to open their border (Machipanda) 24 hours, and it was left on us to be ready. We are giving all the necessary Government agencies and other stakeholders this whole weekend to make the necessary preparations to ensure that come Monday everything is in place to run 24 hours," said Engineer Makumbe.

Home Affairs and Cultural Heritage Permanent Secretary Ambassador Raphael Faranisi said: "As Ministry of Home Affairs and Cultural Heritage, we are responsible for immigration formalities and security. Since we will be opening the border 24 hours, there is need to realign our staff, office space and accommodation of staffers. We are here to assess what is needed.

"We know that as we open the border 24 hours, there will be some teething problems, but we are ready to address all these challenges. We now have the experience to operate our borders 24 hours as Beitbridge and Chirundu are already operating round the clock. We will also be looking for cooperation from the private sector to tell us what their needs will be as Forbes Border Post is proving to be our lifeline to the sea port of Beira."

He said Zimbabwe is working flat out to modernise her border posts.

"Our aim is to modernise all our ports of entries into the country to increase efficiency in the discharge of our duty. If we had resources we would have wanted to modernise all our ports of entry yesterday, but now doing everything bit by bit," said Ambassador Faranisi.

Zimbabwe Revenue Authority Commissioner (Custom and Excise) Mr Batsirai Chadzingwa said they were ready to operate 24 hours at Forbes Border Post.

"As ZIMRA, we are ready to operate 24 hours at this border post as this is not the first time to have a border running 24 hours. We are running Beitbridge and Chirundu border posts 24 hours, so we have the experience to run the border posts 24 hours.

"Our staff members are ready to quick-start the project. Yes, we have some constraints in terms of resources, but we can do with what we have to ensure that we deliver on this mandate.

"We also need to look at the benefit of having a 24-hour border post as it allows the continuous movement of trucks. Over the past few years, we have heard reports of trucks queuing for almost 13km waiting on either side of the border to be cleared when we were closing at 10pm," he said.

Regional immigration officer for the eastern region, Mr Richard Tambandini, said it was all systems go for them.

"We need to address issues of staff movements and their accommodation, but in the meantime, we will be making use of the officers at our disposal. We have requested for 6 more officers from the current 16 we have, the reason being that we will be increasing our shifts from the current two to three. We will be having a total of four shifts, three will be at work, while another shift will be off. As the other shift breaks, the other one that will be resting will come on board," said Mr Tambandini.

Source - The Herald