…As borders reopen on Dec 1
VINCENT MHENE IN GWERU
The country’s tax collector, the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (Zimra), plans to create additional clearing points and increase the workforce at the ports of entry, as the country`s borders are set to reopen next week for private vehicles and pedestrians.
The government announced that borders, which were closed to combat the spread of Covid-19 pandemic, would be reopened on December 1, 2020, starting with Beitbridge, Nyamapanda, Chirundu, and Forbes.
Zimbabwe had only opened borders for returning citizens and the movement of cargo.
Ports of entry were also opened for tourism.
Zimra head of corporate communications, Francis Chimanda, told Business Times that traffic was expected to surge and the creation of additional points would ensure “smooth movement of cargo, private vehicles and pedestrians, when the borders reopen”.
“As Zimra, (we will add) additional staff; have additional clearing points to be used, providing separate parking space for private vehicles and separation of exit lanes,” Chimanda said.
Chimanda said Zimra would minimise physical examinations at Chirundu to speed up the flow of traffic.
Recently, Zimra reported delays in the flow of traffic, especially at Beitbridge, due to physical checks it was conducting to crack down on importers that were under-declaring their goods.
At Forbes Border Post, Chimanda said, commercial traffic has surged lately, both outgoing and incoming.
However, Chimanda said the flow has been smooth and manageable save for negligible moments when seal stock-outs have affected the continuous release of transit cargo.
Zimra has been encouraging foreign drivers to process electronic Temporary Import Permits before arrival at the border posts to avoid delays and to ensure the preclearance of exports to reduce congestion.
To minimise the transmission of the Covid-19, Chimanda said Zimra would “deploy health officers in clearance halls to manage and facilitate social distancing and expedite monitored clearances”.
Businesses have, however, expressed disquiet over the planned reopening of borders, saying this might disrupt the flow of cargo.
They implored Zimra to improve its border management system.
“Soon borders will be opening for private vehicles and pedestrians and if we are not careful, we could see people taking too long to clear their goods and trucks queuing at the borders for weeks,” the Zimbabwe National Chamber of Commerce president Tinashe Manzungu told Business Times.
“Our concern is the border management system, we need to see improvements there, for example, infrastructure.”
The Department of Immigration recently revealed that it, together with the parent ministry, was developing an online integrated border management system that would see all the country’s borders linked.