BY REX MPHISA
GOVERNMENT says it has set aside $50 million for development of dry ports in Makuti, Mutare and Masvingo as part of efforts to decongest the country’s three major border posts of Chirundu, Forbes and Beitbridge.
Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (Zimra) commissioner-general Faith Mazani told Southern Eye on Wednesday that under the new arrangement, cross-border haulage will now proceed directly to the dry ports where physical examination of goods will be done.
She said government also planned to upgrade smaller border posts at Sango and Cashel Valley, east of Rutenga and Chimanimani respectively to facilitate ease of doing business.
“One other strategy that we are looking at is to find ways of decongesting border post areas.
Under our ‘ease of doing business’ some of the strategies are, as you know, there is the Beitbridge redevelopment…it is going to bring a lot of automation, but you may be aware that the (Finance) minister (Mthuli Ncube) announced that we are going to have dry ports, we have secured stands in Masvingo, Makuti and Mutare,” Mazani said.
“What we are starting to do to decongest is once those (dry ports) are built, we don’t hold trucks at the borders, they go to the dry ports where inspections will be done so there will be no congestion. It is especially critical now because there will be a lot of activity now that there is going to be a lot of construction activity.”
Developers will be engaged to build the dry ports to expedite the decongestion of the borders.
The Beitbridge Border Post is undergoing a multi-million dollar upgrade to speed up movement of both human and vehicular traffic.
Mazani expressed concern over the slow pace of the modernisation of Beitbridge Border Post.
“I am pleased, yes, but it’s slower than we expected. Ground-breaking was done in July 2018 by the President (Emerson Mnangagwa) and work was expected to last 24 months.”
She said staff accommodation improvement had been affected by inflation, resulting in contractors failing to continue with work.
Zimra is currently re-tendering construction of staff accommodation in compliance with Procuring Authority of Zimbabwe (Praz) regulations.
“Price increases of materials have taken us back. We had started well, but we now have to go back to Praz with new prices because our contractors are quoting in foreign currency which we do not deal with,” she said.