By Staff Reporter
THE pile-up of traffic at the Beitbridge Border Post has led to a fierce exchange of words between Zimbabwe and South Africa.
A South African minister has since accused Zimbabwe of using antiquated methods to process trucks and other travellers leading to the congestion at the border post.
At least 15 people mostly Zimbabweans are reported to have died at the border post due to various reasons after waiting for days to cross from South Africa into Zimbabwe for festive holidays.
South Africa’s Home Affairs Minister, Aaron Motsoaledi Wednesday told journalists in Pretoria the congestion at the border post was being worsened by the unavailability of an automated system in Zimbabwe to clear commercial cargo.
“It is a well-known fact that the South African Revenue Service (SARS) systems are fully automated and can process many trucks per hour on any one day while the Zimbabwe systems are largely manual and can process only 20 trucks per hour, at most 30 at peak performance,” he said.
“The South Africa side cannot send more trucks than the Zimbabwean can handle. When truckers leave the holding area to get hastily to the border with the vain hope that they’ll put pressure on the SA authorities to process them as quickly as possible, they are expecting a miracle because the system works in a cooperative way like a relay race.”
However, the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (ZIMRA) has dismissed Motsoaledi’s claims.
ZIMRA said it was using the Automated System for Customs Data (ASYCUDA World) to process imports and exports of private and commercial cargo.
It blamed South Africa for the mandatory Covid-19 testing for travellers leaving or entering that country and a 9 pm curfew it recently imposed.
“The clearing system is, therefore, highly automated and supports a number of high-end efficient processes. The statement referred to above is, therefore, not factual and unfounded,” said ZIMRA spokesperson Francis Chimanda.
“On the other hand, cargo exiting Zimbabwe, which has also been pre-cleared electronically, spends time in Zimbabwe awaiting acceptance into South Africa, causing the long queues that have been evident in the past weeks.
“The foregoing illustrates the high levels of automation and efficiencies that ZIMRA has reached and discounts the misconception that we are clearing goods manually and that this is the cause of delays,” added Chimanda.
The Beitbridge Border Post normally experiences high traffic volumes crossing either to South Africa or Zimbabwe during Christmas and New Year’s Eve holidays.
Some truck drivers, who are crossing into South Africa at the Beitbridge Border Post, say traffic headed to Zimbabwe is at a standstill.
One of the truck drivers, Teddy Gwejara said it took him three days to cross to South Africa from Zimbabwe because trucks on the queue to cross the border are not moving.
“Zimbabwean side, traffic is stuck. The trucks are not moving. I think you can spend two to three days trying to cross the border to come to SA side. It took me three days to come to South Africa.”