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Govt urged to expedite one-stop border concept at Beitbridge

by Staff reporter
11 Jul 2019 at 06:18hrs | Views
The Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Budget, Finance and Economic Development has challenged Government to expedite the implementation of the One Stop Border Post (OSPB) concept at Beitbridge to ease perennial operational challenges at the country's border with South Africa.

Under the One Stop Border Post, travellers and cargo will be cleared once for entry/exit in both countries. Currently, these processes are duplicated at both sides of the border to enter or exit either country.

The parliamentarians, who are on a second phase of touring and assessing border operations countrywide, visited Beitbridge Border Post on Monday.

They said some of the trade facilitation challenges emanated from the several border agencies implementing different policies and programmes. Mhona President Mnangagwa and his South African counterpart Cyril Ramaphosa have since agreed on the importance of rolling out the initiative at Beitbridge.

In an interview, the committee's chairperson Felix Tapiwa Mhona said it was critical for Zimbabwe to align border operations in line with the Government's mantra on the implementation of the "ease of doing businesses".

"If we are to compare operations at Beitbridge and Chirundu ports of entries where there is a one stop border post concept, you will find that if we can act with speed in rolling out a similar concept, we can be able to address some of the challenges at Beitbridge," said Mr Mhona.

"In terms of traffic, we have seen that the numbers actually signify that Beitbridge can be the potential revenue earner among most of our ports of entries.

"You will appreciate that his Excellency Emmerson Dambudzo Mnangagwa is advocating for the ease of doing business, and here people are being searched more than necessary. "This will not go along well with the ease of doing business mantra we are pushing as a nation.

"It is also important that we consolidate our operations and give dignity to our people so that if they are searched at one particular point, there will be no need for other stakeholders in terms of security services to continue doing the searches".

Mhona said they had witnessed a number of shortages in terms of human resources at Beitbridge, where some members of staff worked long hours and had no proper accommodation. He said the essence of the tours was for them to ascertain exactly how Parliament can add value in terms of the operations of the ports of entries.

Mhona said they were on phase two of the programme which started at Beitbridge (on Monday) and that they will visit Plumtree, Kazungula and Victoria Falls on a similar mission.

"We have been moving around with Zimra leadership to ascertain the operations and issues obtaining on the ground since phase one," he said.

"Zimra is one of the anchors of revenue generation in the country.

"As a committee which provides an oversight role, it is also important that we must recommend for the budgetary support in terms of Zimra operations."

Mhona said the committee had noted that a number of illegal activities that are alleged to be happening through the border post don't usually happen within the port of entry, but along the rivers.

"Here (at Beitbridge) we have seen that this happens mainly along the Limpopo River," he said.

"We have also seen that it is important for the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (Zimra) to be capacitated with the requisite equipment like drones so that they man the border lines where a lot of illegal activities are happening."

Mhona said though there were numerous reports of corruption at the ports of entry, dealing with the issues would need a multi-sectorial approach considering that it involved cartels and syndicates.

He said the parliamentarians were impressed with the work ethics of border workers and that it was important that their challenges be addressed with the urgency they deserved.

"If we expedite our processes in terms of infrastructure development as enshrined in the Transitional Stabilisation Programme (TSP), it will yield a lot of impetus on how we can revive the economy of Zimbabwe," said Mhona.

Source - the herald
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