In the digital age, our border posts must evolve with the times and embrace technology in order for goods to be cleared efficiently.
Our border posts have been so porous and delays are the order of the day. These delays have been fertile ground for corruption, as money trades hands for goods to clear customs on time.
This resulted in traffic jams at the Beitbridge border crossing, with transport trucks spending five days in queues awaiting customs clearance.
Five days is a long time for a serious border post to clear goods. Delays at the Beitbridge border post will backfire on Zimbabwe as truckers opt for alternative routes in the southern African region. Transport trucks are very likely to opt for Kazungula, a one-stop border post connecting Botswana and Zambia.
Zimbabwe would be the big loser if transport trucks opted for the Kazungula border post. This means a loss of income for the country. Zimbabwe was not part of the agreement for the construction of the Kazungula Bridge, so it cannot benefit from the revenue collected at the border post, and the road does not pass through Zimbabwe.
Kazungula, who deals with carriers along the north-south corridor, would have an eight-hour waiting period.
Given the mess in Beitbridge, there is nothing to prevent truckers from opting for the faster route to Kazungula.
We therefore urge the authorities at the Beitbridge border post to minimize the time traders spend at the border post if the country survives competition from Kazungula.
With the government pledging to rehabilitate the Beitbridge-Chirundu highway, the positive move would encourage traders to prefer Zimbabwe, but the delays undermine the authorities’ efforts as truck drivers would have to avoid Beitbridge.
In May of this year, when Kazungula was in office, President Emmerson Mnangagwa, who was present as a guest, attempted to smuggle Zimbabwe into the deal so that he could benefit from the bridge knowing full well that his efforts were in vain.
He said: “Ultimately, Zimbabwe will be part of this flagship project, which accelerates our regional integration efforts.
Only time will tell when Zimbabwe becomes part of the project rejected by former President Robert Mugabe.
It is high time the authorities put the brakes on anyone who sabotages the country by denying it the income it so badly needs.