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$240m Beitbridge Border Post upgrade begins

by Staff reporter
09 Apr 2020 at 08:14hrs | Views
The start of a $240 million upgrade of Beitbridge Border Post, home to over 70 000 people, is likely to improve town life, traffic flow and reduce pollution.

There is so much optimism in the air that Zimborders, a consortium of companies including Johannesburg Stock Exchange-listed Raubex and LA Frontiere Group, who won the tender to upgrade the border post will spur transformation in many facets of the town. Work to upgrade the town has commenced with a posted signage around the warehouse under reconstruction.

Furthermore, work on the construction of a Vehicle Inspectorate Department depot 5km from the border post at the junction of Harare and Bulawayo highways was progressing, while surfacing of the Customs and Excise yard is ongoing.

For decades, pollution at Beitbridge Border Post had become a thorn in the flesh for residents and those transiting through the country and Sadc's busiest inland port of entry.

Pollution, water and air, has had severe implications to thousands of people living in western suburbs, especially Dulivhadzimu and Limpopo View and others close to the water treatment plant. The number of people crossing the border post — about 14 000 which at times rises to 34 000 at peak, has also felt the impact.

The status quo in this area, where only the export side is paved has been a ticking health time bomb for border officials on the arrivals commercial section and over 2 000 residents living directly on the west of the border risk contracting TB and other diseases. In addition to carbon emissions from vehicles, there is a lot of dust pollution from passing haulage trucks, buses and other vehicles passing through the border post.

In short, the border town lacked all the qualities of a green city that include good air quality, better local transport, biodiversity, waste management and reduced noise levels. The rising numbers of polluting vehicles, poor waste management, lack of green urban policies affected the everyday lives of citizens as they breathed polluted air.

Work to upgrade the town has instilled a sense of hope amid the current despair. There is greater hope that the upgrading of the town will certainly push forward - a range of measures to improve air quality for the town's inhabitants, improve waste management, traffic flow and the general ambience of the town.

All this, is expected to protect public health and the environment from the effects of air pollution. Major civil works under this project include; the constriction of more commercial customs offices, paving, and expansion of sewer and water reticulation facilities, separation of traffic into buses, light vehicles, tourists, commercial vehicles, and construction of a commercial bridge to link with South Africa.

Mr Herkie Sandernbergh, of Raubex Construction which was subcontracted for civil works by ZimBorders, said recently that pre-commencement works have been completed.

The official said upon completion the area will be a modern commercial hub and that in some instances they will be demolishing, upgrading and putting in new buildings. He said they had covered a lot of ground and were on course to meet the completion target.

"It's a tight schedule, but judging on the work on the ground, we are right on course to meet our target. You will note that we are doing a lot of processes through the right channels to make this wonderful initiative a great success," said Mr Sandernbergh.

The border upgrading project, he said would reduce the time people spent and cargo freight at the port of entry. In addition, the border will increase the volume go human and cargo traffic, cleared at a more convenient and quick rate due to the separation of traffic.

Environmental Management Agency's publicist for Matabeleland South, Mr Simon Musasiwa said the laying of concrete at the border post will reduce dust emissions which affect the respiratory system negatively.

"The most common diseases emanating from exposure to dust include emphysema and asthma attacks. The paving of the border post will certainly reduce fugitive dust emissions, something which may provide relief to people in the town," he said.

Musasiwa said there was need to improve the town's drainage system to reduce gulley formation that threaten infrastructure in the town.

"In addition, the project developers are also encouraged to leave green spaces that will aid in beautifying the border town and improve the greening of the town," he said. Beitbridge Mayor, Councillor Morgan Ncube is upbeat about the upgrade. He believes strongly that the border upgrade will help solve the town's waste management and other environmental problems.

"The need to maintain a clean and safe environment cannot be over-emphasized. We need to work together with businesses and residents," he said.

"Additionally, we will continue engaging communities on solid waste and pollution issues."

Reports indicate that the town produces 1000 tonnes of solid waste every month when the local authority can only collect 700 tonnes. Breathing these air pollutants is known to cause respiratory problems, heart attacks and strokes and it has been linked to cause other diseases.

Source - the herald

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