From Bright Madera in Victoria Falls
Government will soon embark on the expansion of Kazungula Border Post that will also improve the existing infrastructure to
increase efficiency to cater for the increasing tourist and cargo volumes.
Expansion of the border post is part of the Government's initiative to improve efficiency at border posts and embracing regional and international integration. Kazungula Border Post links Zimbabwe and Botswana.
Secretary for Regional Integration and International Corporation, Mr Tedious Chifamba said Government was dedicated to improve conditions at the border post, which are at the moment below regional and international standards.
"Government is committed towards promoting trade through regional and international integration and we are in the process of integrating as we enhance border efficiency management systems,'" he said.
The secretary was part of a delegation touring Kazungula and Victoria Falls border posts and the Victoria Falls Airport in a bid to improve efficiency at these entry points.
After the fact-finding mission, the ministry is to submit a report to Cabinet to get approval for implementation.
Regional trade is fast becoming the major contributor to GDP growth for all countries through the Sadc and Comesa blocs. Zimbabwe is part of these trade blocs.
Mr Chifamba said expansion of the border post would be biased towards tourism since it is more of a tourist entry point than for cargo.
Tourist inflows into the country continue to increase in response to economic growth with the sector expected to grow by 7 percent this year.
A snap survey by Herald Business at the post indicated that an average of 200 tourists pass through the border post every day.
Tourists who come to Zimbabwe would have passed through South Africa and Botswana.
Victoria Falls has remained the biggest tourist attraction regionally and internationally.
Briefing the secretary, Assistant Regional Immigration officer, Mr Albert Mabika said the Kazungula post has only three counters, two of which are being used by the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority.
He said shortage of operating space had resulted in tourists queuing for longer periods to process their travel documents while cargo carriers also queue for long hours for clearance.
Stakeholders also highlighted disharmony among
agencies manning the border post.
However, the secretary said in the process of integration, Government will work out systems to harmonise procedures at the border post. He added that the country is cognisant of the idea of a one-stop border post as part of regional and international integration.
Mr Mabika said the immigration department has realised an increase in the tourist inflows but the system at the post does not have the capacity to accommodate the increase in both cargo and human traffic.
"Travellers are having problems in processing their travel documents, the visa. We are witnessing long queues as most visa paying national prefer to process their visa at the point of entry and it has to be cash because in Zimbabwe they can not use their credit cards to pay for visa," he said.
Zimbabwe is at the moment trying to embrace plastic money, a move that has become the phenomenon globally.
Zimra director - ICT and Infrastructure Development, Mr Tjiyapo Velempini said his organisation would complement Government efforts by upgrading the computer system and installing radiation dictators at the border post.
"We are going to make sure that funds are utilised properly to improve services and to make sure the system is reliable," he said adding that, "improved efficiencies will result in a boom in trade and improve doing business rankings for Zimbabwe."
Stakeholders, mainly the tour operators and shipping and forwarding agencies called on the Government to decongest the border and embrace plastic money, through local banks.
They lamented at the levies charged mainly by the Environment Management Agency, which collects up to a maximum of US$500 for certain containers carrying dangerous chemicals.
High charges by EMA have resulted in some trucks diverting from the Kazungula Border into Zambia, prejudicing the country of some of the levies charged. Tour operators have complained of delays in processing tourist travel documents and high toll fees.